LOS ANGELES — They have attended school in the United States, spent their childhoods in U.S. neighborhoods and grown up as Americans in every way but one — brought to the country by their undocumented parents as children, they have no legal authority to live in the United States.
The political and legal turmoil over the federal program that since 2012 has shielded many of them from deportation, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has left thousands of the so-called Dreamers — immigrants whose plight has won sympathy at times from Democrats and Republicans alike — in legal limbo. Federal law makes it illegal to hire undocumented immigrants, and, under the law, many of these young immigrants will graduate from college to a life of under-the-table jobs as nannies and construction workers.
Now, a coalition of undocumented student leaders and some of the nation’s top legal scholars is proposing that California, a state that has served as an incubator for progressive policies on immigration, begin employing undocumented students at the 10 University of California campuses.
The proposal, which almost certainly would face significant political and legal challenges, calls for the state to defy current interpretations of a 1986 federal immigration law that prohibits U.S. employers from hiring undocumented immigrants. But a new legal analysis drafted at the University of California, Los Angeles, and reviewed in some of the nation’s top law schools argues that the law does not apply to states.
has become a multi-billion-dollar nightmare.
“At the University of California, students who cannot access DACA are being systematically denied opportunities afforded to their classmates, including employment opportunities that would enhance the research, education and public service mission of the university,” the letter said.
California, which has the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, has a history of resisting federal immigration controls, issuing drivers licenses to all state residents regardless of immigration status and offering in-state college tuition to undocumented students. It recently became the first state to offer state-funded health care to all low-income people. Several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have declared themselves as “sanctuary cities” that will not cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented people simply because of their immigration status.