DACA Decision Raises Legal Stakes for Undocumented Students

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Berkeley Law – By Andrew Cohen

The White House decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has sparked chaos and consternation among immigrant communities in the United States. Berkeley Law, faculty, staff, and students are working with program participants and other undocumented immigrants on campus and at the law school to provide legal guidance and support.

Since DACA’s launch in 2012, more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants—including thousands of current or former UC students—have been approved for the program. To be eligible, applicants must have arrived in the United States before age 16, lived there since June 15, 2007, and not have been older than 30 when the DACA was established.

Widely known as Dreamers, they gained security against the prospect of deportation via a two-year renewable reprieve from deportation, which provided work authorization and access to a Social Security number, state I.D. card, and regular California driver’s license. Now, their future is in limbo.

Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky called the White House announcement “deeply disturbing … Dreamers and immigrants are an integral part of our community. The law school, and I know the University of California, is committed to doing all we can to provide assistance to our students and their families. Berkeley Law has been a leader in establishing a campus legal services program for DACA students and will continue to do so.”

While they hail from different countries, DACA students share common tales of parents migrating to the United States to escape poverty, persecution, human rights violations, and armed conflict in pursuit of economic and educational opportunity. Chemerinsky said Berkeley Law will make available knowledgeable counselors for those who need them and work with campus and the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) “to help facilitate representation where that is needed.”

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