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UC Board of Regents fails to meet deadline for undocumented employment policy plan

Supporters of the Opportunity for All campaign rally outside of Powell Library in November. (Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

By Shaanth Kodialam

Dec. 1, 2023 7:00 p.m.

This post was updated Dec. 3 at 10:11 p.m.

The UC Board of Regents failed to meet a self-imposed deadline Thursday to announce a potential pathway that would allow thousands of undocumented students to apply for on-campus jobs.

The regents voted in May to form a working group exploring the concerns of the yearlong Opportunity for All campaign and set a timeline to announce their findings by Thursday. The campaign – led by a coalition of progressive legal scholars and student organizers without legal status – backs a novel legal theory that argues that federal immigration law barring employers from hiring individuals without legal status doesn’t apply to state entities. Campaign organizers said they have given the UC the implementation guidance necessary and that the University should set the precedent for other higher education institutions to follow.

After subsequent rounds of meetings with advocates, protests at UCLA drawing hundreds of students from across the state, and disruptions at regents meetings, UC president Michael Drake delayed the announcement of an implementation plan at the board’s Nov. 16 meeting. That was the last public meeting held by the board that month.

“The legal considerations are numerous, and, after several discussions with the stakeholders involved, we’ve concluded that it is in everyone’s best interest to continue to study the matter further,” Drake said at the time. “We want to ensure that we are considering possible alternatives and all possible ramifications.

[Related: UC Board of Regents puts off decision announcing undocumented hiring plan]

Most public opposition to the campaign’s legal theory has come from conservative legal scholars and Republican lawmakers who claim it will fail under the scrutiny of law and open University officials to litigation and loss of federal funding. Students and scholars in support of the campaign have rebuked those arguments and said the UC should brave the potential legal concerns and meet its commitments.

“The UC has made a promise to its students, and people around the country are watching to see how it will fulfill this promise,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, faculty co-director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy, in a press release following Drake’s announcement of the delay. “I hope the UC will use this additional time to work intensively with us and undocumented student leaders to ensure that hiring begins at the start of next year.”

A spokesperson for the UC Office of the President pointed to Drake’s comments at the Nov. 16 meeting and declined to comment further.

There are an estimated 4,000 undocumented students in the UC system. It’s unclear when the UC will announce a decision or possible implementation plan, but if the UC were to accept the campaign’s demands, it would be the first university system in the nation to do so.

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Shaanth Kodialam | News senior staff
Kodialam is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. They were previously the 2022-2023 features and student life editor and a 2021-2022 News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a third-year communication and geography student.
Kodialam is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. They were previously the 2022-2023 features and student life editor and a 2021-2022 News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a third-year communication and geography student.
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