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Letter to the Editor: Opportunity for All campaign requires more urgent response from UC leadership

By Jia Peña

Jan. 16, 2023 8:44 p.m.

Dear editor:

I commend the staff of the Daily Bruin for providing coverage on the Nov. 1 teach-in about the hiring of undocumented students at the University of California. However, I would like to emphasize the gravity of the situation these students are facing and the campaign’s commitment to making progress.

I took Labor Studies 10: “Introduction to Labor and Workplace Studies” in fall and had many classmates without permanent legal status and who additionally do not qualify or receive benefits from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – an administrative policy that protects children who arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007, from deportation. Such UCLA students who lack permanent legal status are highly-qualified individuals of great strength and resilience, as many of them showed through their testimonies and stories. They should be able to live free of the financial and legal constraints the UC system has trapped them in.

The Opportunity for All campaign – in which we ask the University of California to permit the hiring of undocumented students – is not asking for a lot. We only urge the UC to recognize the legal right of undocumented students to work on campus and grant them equal access to the many opportunities the UC has to offer, which has never explicitly been restricted by the state. The campaign already has the support of students and staff campuswide, but it is on the UC Board of Regents and UC President Michael Drake to make the clearly morally correct decision to address their students’ needs in a timely manner.

Capable students are being deprived of opportunities to participate in research. They are being deprived of opportunities to get a job. They are being deprived of fellowship opportunities.

For many, this translates into being deprived of earning a living.

Supporting this campaign will allow the cause to build momentum and inspire other UC campuses, California schools and other colleges across the country to follow. Let’s set the precedent in creating a more secure future for UCLA students without permanent legal status.

No progress at UCLA has been accomplished without student pressure – so we will continue to fight for Opportunity for All.

Jia Peña is a first-year undeclared student at UCLA.

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