Pacific Hosts Immigration Panel Discussion
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, University of the Pacific, along with McGeorge School of Law and Univision 19, hosted the “Know Your Rights” panel. The panel focused on the issues of immigration and any potential changes to the country’s immigration policy under the new Trump administration. The panel was held in Grace Covell Hall and was open to the public, including students.
The panel included five attorneys specializing in immigration law, all of whom are McGeorge alumni, and Professor Racquel Aldana, who teaches at McGeorge.
The panel mainly focused on the issues currently facing undocumented citizens, those who fall under DACA protection and the “dreamers.” DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which was instituted by President Obama in June of 2012. DACA defers deportation for any undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16. The deportation deferment lasts for two years and can be renewed. According to the Pew Research Center, up to 1.7 million Americans are eligible for DACA protection and over half of those Americans reside in Texas or California. Dreamers refer to those who have received student financial aid benefits through the California DREAM Act.
The panel noted the uncertainty of the future of these policies, as the new Trump administration could repeal or not enforce them. Donald Trump ran on a platform that many considered to be anti-immigrant and the fear is that, in addition to building the infamous wall, he would also end DACA. Indeed, the recent executive orders calling for the construction of a border wall with Mexico and a travel ban on certain “terrorist-prone” countries has many fearing that acts such as DACA will cease in the near future.
The consensus among the panelists was a “wait and see” approach, as any questions about current immigration policy, such as whether individuals should seek to renew their DACA protection, cannot be adequately answered without any further information from the Trump administration.
In addition to discussing the fate of current immigration legislation, the issue of sanctuary cities was also discussed. Sanctuary cities are cities that willfully refuse to cooperate with local law enforcement who seek to deport illegal immigrants. In California, the two largest sanctuary cities are San Francisco and Los Angeles. Governor Brown’s comments during his State of the State address openly defied the Trump administration’s stance on immigration, essentially turning California into a sanctuary state. Federal authorities could withhold federal funds from any sanctuary cities as a means to get immigration legislation enforced.
Overall, the mood of the panel reflected that of the country as a whole under the new presidency; that of caution, waiting to see what President Trump to do next. But also hopeful of what the future brings, and that people may come together for mutual assurance.
PC: McGeorge School of Law