Bay Area becomes target of immigration battle

March 13, 2018

Despite some recent victories for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in federal courts, the Trump administration’s efforts to increase immigration restrictions and deportations continue, along with local and national efforts to protect and support those targeted by these measures.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Trump administration on Feb. 26 to end DACA, posing another setback for the administration’s efforts to rescind protections for approximately 700,000 undocumented young people receiving legal safeguards under the program.

The decision was backed up by a second federal ruling on Feb. 27, which stated that challenges to the administration’s efforts to end DACA would succeed, pointing to the reasons for ending the program as arbitrary and capricious. Two more rulings by judges in California have also ensured temporary blows to efforts to end DACA and deport recipients of the program.

However, DACA hasn’t been the only target of the Trump administration’s persistent attacks on immigration. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside ICE’s San Francisco headquarters on Feb. 28, following the agency’s announcement that they had arrested more than 150 undocumented Bay Area residents that week. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf became the target of widespread attacks from conservatives after issuing a warning to residents on Feb. 24 of imminent ICE operations in the Bay Area.

“As Mayor of Oakland, I am sharing this information publicly not to panic our residents but protect them,” Schaaf said in a statement. “My priority is for the well-being and safety of all residents — particularly our most vulnerable — and I know Oakland is safer when we share information, encourage community awareness and care for our neighbors.”

In a lawsuit put forth by the ACLU on behalf of 22 DACA recipients whose legal status had been revoked under Trump, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled Feb. 26 that the government had not acted fairly or according to protocol in rescinding their legal protections, and that they be restored. The ruling ensures some level of due process for DACA recipients whose protections are revoked, requiring that they be informed of the reason for it and the opportunity to defend themselves, which plaintiffs in the ACLU case had not. Another ruling from a federal judge in California in January required the Trump administration to resume processing DACA renewal applications.

All in all, the court decisions mean the Trump administration will face greater difficulty in rescinding the protections of DACA recipients without due process, and that DACA will continue past the March 5 deadline that had been set. However, this only provides temporary reassurance for current DACA recipients. The fate of the program continues to be uncertain, and the rulings don’t require new applications to be processed.

In another setback to immigrants’ rights, the Supreme Court ruled 5–3 on Feb. 27 that any immigrant in the United States, regardless of legal status, can be detained without bond hearings. The case is now set to return to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, to determine whether this practice is constitutional.

Mills students were invited to participate in a national call-in to local representatives on Feb. 28 by the President’s Alliance for Higher Education and Immigration, an organization of college and university presidents that includes Mills President Beth Hillman.

“The goal is to maintain pressure on our representatives to understand the implications of rescinding DACA on students and their families and to take the opportunity to share stories about the impact these threats to immigration have on more than 700,000 people,” the Mills College President’s Office said in an email.

Other forms of advocacy have also been the focus at Mills, with the formation of the Undocumented Students Union (USU) and turning to fundraising and other opportunities to help support undocumented students. The college administration has also publicly declared its support for undocumented students, announcing in a Jan. 18 email that increased resources and consideration would be provided to the undocumented portion of Mills’ student body.

“Our overarching goal is to ensure that we are acknowledging the needs of our undocumented students, particularly with the landscape right now,” Chicora Martin, Mills College vice president of student life and dean of students, said. 

Many of the areas that Martin oversees, such as Counseling and Psychological Services and Career Services, are working to ramp up their support and resources for undocumented students.

“It was really an indicated need and students are sharing anecdotally that they’re very appreciative,” Martin said, regarding increased resources for undocumented students at CAPS.

For Career Services, Martin said it’s important to provide resources for how to talk about status, particularly for those not eligible for DACA. They also emphasized the importance of The Center’s role, as the hub for social justice activity at Mills.

“I would imagine they feel much more supported,” Martin said.

Other measures outlined in the Jan. 18 email from the president’s office, such as increased support for undocumented students in the form of support for housing, dining and tuition, are still in their planning stages. Some of these come following an open letter and petition from Mills student Reyna Maldonado, who detailed the problems she’d personally faced with the M Center, and led a campaign last semester calling on President Hillman to assess and address the needs of undocumented students as a whole.

“Mills College prides itself on diversity efforts, yet employs people unqualified and insensitive to work with students that are legally marginalized and not economically privileged,” Maldonado said in her open letter last semester.

“We have had good responses from students to the breath of changes and additions we have made,” an email from the president’s office on Feb. 27 said. “It’s early to measure effectiveness as many of these changes are for the next academic year and most of the planning and meetings are taking place this spring. For example, housing and some other financial changes are slated for fall since we were already in the middle of a financial aid year. Student leaders are meeting with Bon Appetit this spring to talk about support.”

For now, an immediate service offered to undocumented Mills students is assistance in submitting and paying for DACA renewals, which Martin says is intended to ensure maximum privacy. They encourage those in need of renewals to contact Lilian Gonzalez in Student Access and Support Services.

The Mills College President’s Office didn’t have a comment on ICE arrests in the Bay Area or Schaaf’s warning to residents as of Feb. 27.

Bay Area becomes target of immigration battle was published on March 13, 2018 in Featured - News, Front Page, Headline Story, News

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