Tuesday, May 21

Napolitano’s track record upsets undocumented students at UC summit

News, UC

Students walked out of University of California President Janet Napolitano’s speech at the first-ever UC summit on undocumented students Thursday, protesting her former role as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The summit, which was held in Oakland, brought together people from across the nation interested in immigration reform, including undocumented students, immigration advocates, researchers and government officials, said Shelly Meron, a UC spokeswoman. About 300 people registered for the summit, and more than 100 of them were students, she said.

When Napolitano entered the room to give her speech for the opening session of the summit, one student from each campus stood up and talked about a grievance they had regarding Napolitano. Some students talked about deportations of undocumented individuals that happened during Napolitano’s tenure as secretary of the DHS and others talked about the struggles that undocumented students face today.

After students stood up and talked about their concerns, they began leaving as part of a coordinated effort. By the end of the walkout, the room was nearly empty, said Francisco López-Flores, a fourth-year Chicana/o studies student who attended the summit.

Grecia Mondragon, a member of Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success, or IDEAS at UCLA, said students in immigration reform groups on various campuses coordinated the walkout before the event.

The schedule for the summit included speakers such as Tom Wong, an assistant political science professor at UC San Diego, and discussion groups covering a variety of topics. Some of the topics included career development for undocumented students, financial aid and immigration legal services.

Mondragon said in many of the discussion groups the students tried to create conversations between themselves and the speakers.

López-Flores said he is a bit suspicious of Napolitano’s intentions due to her prior role as secretary of the DHS.

“There’s a lot of suspicion and conjecture as to why Napolitano is holding something like this – we all know her track record as ‘deporter-in-chief,’ when she was at (the DHS),” he said.

In the past, many undocumented students at the UC have protested Napolitano’s role in the DHS, especially the fact that nearly 400,000 undocumented individuals were deported annually during her tenure, according to USA Today.

In response to student concerns over Napolitano’s former role in the DHS, Meron said Napolitano established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which defers the deportation of undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children. Meron added that as UC president, Napolitano committed $5 million to providing more resources for undocumented students, including financial aid.

Sofia Jacome, a member of IDEAS at UCLA and a fourth-year anthropology student, said she wishes the summit had addressed a wider variety of issues affecting undocumented individuals, instead of being limited to students.

“This summit tokenizes what people consider ‘good immigrants’ like undocumented students while characterizing undocumented individuals who do not have a college education as ‘bad immigrants,’” she said. “The summit should also address the issues of undocumented individuals who are not in college.”

Jacome said she thinks the UC could have been more transparent in how it invited students to the summit and more clear on the criteria it used in selecting students.

“When the Undocumented Student Program at UCLA contacted us, all they asked us was for our name and email,” she said. “We’re afraid that other communities like black immigrants or the queer community are left out.”

Meron said campus-level undocumented student coordinators and the UC Student Association nominated students to invite to the event, so she thinks that there was enough student input.

Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA spokesman, said 17 students from UCLA were invited. The criteria used was to pick a diverse group of students who were knowledgable about the resources and services the university provides for undocumented students.

Mondragon said students will present their recommendations for improving resources for undocumented students at the university to Napolitano Friday.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit
News editor

Bharanidaran is the News editor. He was previously a news reporter for the campus politics beat, covering student government and the UCLA administration.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • suenami

    This article says mentions “that as UC president, Napolitano committed $5 million to providing more resources for undocumented students, including financial aid,” and “resources and services the university provides for undocumented students.”

    Does anyone know if any of that “committed $5 million” made its way to UCLA and in what form, or what resources and services UCLA provides for undocumented students?

    • Guest of a Guest

      Each campus submitted budgets for their allocation based on campus size/enrollment numbers. Some details were outlined in this DB article:
      UCLA received $848,000 for about 450 undocumented students, with $250,000 of those fund being used for student services (e.g., counseling, etc.) and $598,000 for financial aid (e.g., work study).

      • suenami

        Thank you.

  • Guest of a Guest

    How do these students expect any progress or support for their cause if they continue these petty protests every time she opens her mouth about undocumented student issues? They did the same exact style of protest when she met with students at UC Berkeley. This is highly ineffective and screams of immaturity. These extremist, fringe groups will never hear her out or approve of her position as President of UC. It’s a lost cause and waste of time to try and schedule time with these groups. She’s doing her part with attending these meeting and forums as well as providing funds. No one is perfect, but I am sure these same activist groups and students are enjoying the $5 million she provided to the UC campuses for undocumented students!


    They want to imagine that they and their parents did not come here illegally. We have laws it states if you come here illegally you will be deported. Don’t fault the government for deporting. The fault is yours and your parents because you broke in the U.S like a thief now demand we change our laws to fit the criminals. That will never happen l DACA does not grant legal status DACA is still in the country illegally and can still be deported. DACA should be revoked as well

  • Jerry Kunnathusseril

    Mexico for Mexicans. Africa for Africans. Asia for Asians. America for Everybody.

    • Vanitas

      Nonono. Don’t be crazy. You left some White countries that Whites can flee to. We’ve got to flood ALL White countries at the same time, so they can’t avoid enrichment. They we really gear up the race mixing propaganda and our dream of genetic communism will finally be realized.

      • Jerry Kunnathusseril

        What do you mean by genetic communism? All my comments were referring to is how most African and latin American countries have extremely restrictive immigration policies but the moment that countries that happen to be more developed start restricting immigration then the opponents start raging about how evil the western world really is…

  • http://therightstuff.biz/ Meow Blitz

    What the heck is an ‘undocumented student’? Is that somebody who goes to classes without enrolling in the college?

    • Vanitas

      They have undocumented students! Wow, I’m going to become transgendered for a few weeks and move into the female dorm room. If they try and kick me out, it’ll be hate and intolerance. Education is a human right!

      • http://therightstuff.biz/ Meow Blitz

        Bro, I go to Harvard. I just show up at classes and just tell them I’m undocumented.

  • Vanitas

    If i rob a bank can we call it an unregistered withdrawal? I mean, I’m only stealing money, not a people’s country, heritage and future.

  • Gary

    I am a naturalized US Citizen. Immigrants are defined by US Immigration Law as “legal aliens” or LPR’s. People who violate our immigration law are not immigrants but migrants . Apparently “facts” are not in the curriculum at UCLA.