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The commuter lounge on a UC campus

U of California, San Diego

The University of California’s Board of Regents has created a working group to explore the possibility of allowing undocumented students to work on campus.

“The university is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their immigration status, can pursue and attain a world-class UC education. This should include providing enriching student employment opportunities to all students,” UC’s president, Dr. Michael V. Drake, and board chair, Richard Leib, wrote in a statement on Thursday. “After an in-depth discussion, consistent with the adopted policy statement, the Board of Regents appointed a Regents working group that, by the end of November of this year, will consider relevant issues and develop an implementation plan and a legal strategy. The working group will determine whether, how and when to implement next steps.”

Activists have been fighting for months to help undocumented students access employment opportunities on UC campuses, arguing that their inability to work not only has financial consequences but also impacts their ability to succeed in their studies and careers, since they can’t take paid research opportunities or internships on campus.

Proponents sent Dr. Drake a letter last fall outlining why they believe it would be legal—despite the fact that employing undocumented individuals is federally prohibited due to the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The argument relied on a legal analysis by the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy, which claims that states and state entities like public universities are not subject to the IRCA.

If the system moves forward in allowing institutions to hire undocumented students, experts expect it to face legal challenges.

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