Hispanic College Students at a Campus
Just as it happens in almost any aspect of life in America, Hispanics are building a major presence in higher education. For instance, a recent study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center revealed that enrollment by Hispanics is outpacing the national average. Unsplash.com/Alexis Brown

A bill introduced in the California legislature might allow undocumented students at public colleges or universities to work on campuses without having a work permit or legal immigrant status.

Assemblymember David Alvarez, representing San Diego, introduced a bill that would stop University of California and Cal State schools along with community colleges "from disqualifying a student from being hired for an employment position due to their failure to provide proof of federal work authorization," as per Orange County Register.

Previously, students who fell under the purview of the DACA status, initiated by ex-President Barack Obama, were offered interim protection from deportation and temporary work permits.

However, former President Donald Trump's administration ended the program, following which the Department of Homeland Security, responsible for reviewing and approving DACA applications, stopped processing new ones in 2017.

Currently, the department only accepted renewal requests, which meant students who did not already have DACA permits were unable to work on campuses.

"America has always promised that if you work hard, you will have the opportunity to succeed," Alvarez said. "These students have fulfilled their obligation and are ready to be our future teachers, scientists, doctors and public servants. This bill will provide them with the opportunity to work."

Alvarez said, currently, about 45,000 undocumented students in California cannot apply for employment due to their status.

Many scholars, lawmakers and organizations including Alvarez and the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy said that public colleges and universities in California should be exempted from not hiring undocumented workers.

"When Congress passed IRCA, Congress did not curtail states' historic power to determine the employment qualifications of state employees," faculty co-directors of the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy wrote in 2022 in a memo, which was signed by faculty from many law schools in the country.

If the bill is passed, 10 UC schools, 23 Cal State universities and 116 community colleges will have to follow the law by Jan. 6, 2025.

Earlier this year, the University of California President Michael Drake said after consulting with numerous law firms and legal experts for several months, the board "concluded that the proposed legal pathway is not viable at this time," as per the official statement.

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