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UC moves toward hiring undocumented students

Keoki Seu
Flickr / Creative Commons

The action by the system's board of regents Thursday does not immediately authorize the employment of undocumented students. Instead, UC plans to create a working group, proposed by President Michael V. Drake, that will spend the next six months considering the proposal.

Regent leaders insisted Thursday that their intention is to ultimately permit the hiring of undocumented students, but said they want time to carefully consider the issue, including legal strategies.

If implemented, UC would be the first known institution to argue that a federal statute barring the hiring of undocumented immigrants doesn't apply to state entities. Doing so could attract a legal challenge.

First, though, the regents want to ensure they have "the best case to do that" legally, said Richard Leib, the current chair of the board who will be responsible for creating the working group, which will be made up entirely of regents.

The working group will complete its report by Nov. 30, at which point it will direct Drake on how to move forward.

Since last fall, a coalition of undocumented students and their allies, including legal scholars at UCLA, have called on the system to authorize the hiring of undocumented students who don't have protections offered under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Trump administration ended the program in 2017 and no new applications have been accepted since then.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.