DACA panel relieves some fears for undocumented students

Photo by Mimi LiAs President-elect Donald J. Trump’s presidential inauguration nears and his anti-immigrant and deportation rhetoric continues, undocumented students have high anxiety for their lives and the lives of their families. In response, many colleges and universities have prepared ‘Know Your Rights’ workshops to educate undocumented students about their rights.

The Know Your Rights workshop held on Tuesday, which focused on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was sponsored by the Cal State LA Dreamer’s Resource Center and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA). The panel’s speakers consisted of Arthur Minas, an immigration attorney with Weisz Immigration Law Group, and Jessica Hanson, a Skadden Fellow with the National Immigration Law Center.

The event, originally held at the Dreamer’s Resource Center, had to be moved to Biological Sciences Room 244, due to a larger number of attendees than expected. The new room was packed, as students and some faculty members filled the desks, lined the walls, and sat on the floor. Emotions were high at the event, as students spoke with worry and fear of Trump’s proposed immigration policies.

The immigration attorneys cleared misconceptions of immigration laws by providing distinctions between state and federal laws. While DACA is federal law and is in the hands of Trump after his inauguration, other laws that are enacted by the state of California cannot be easily overturned.

“The California DREAM Act is state law and it’s not going away,” said Hanson. “Basically, any laws that are state laws, Trump cannot single-handedly undo those laws, and if he were to try to challenge any state laws, there would be a long-term process of the federal government suing the state, and we would have strong constitutional arguments to uphold those laws. So, the DREAM Act, AB 540, and AB 60… Laws in California that protect immigrants are here to stay.”

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