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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    May 2006

    "Not Enough" from Napolitano: Critics balk at $5 million in aid to undocumented stude

    "Not Enough" from Napolitano: Critics balk at $5 million in aid to undocumented students

    By Glen Martin
    New UC President Janet Napolitano’s announcement of a $5 million aid package for undocumented immigrant students appears to have done little—well, make that nothing—to assuage those most fiercely opposed to her appointment. If anything, it has sharpened the attacks. Characterizing the aid as an insincere response meant to deflect criticism, they continue to demand she simply resign.

    Napolitano, who is distrusted by many undocumented immigrants and their allies because of her record as former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, insists she is committed to helping undocumented students secure legal status.

    “Let me be clear: UC welcomes all students who qualify academically, whether they are documented or undocumented,” she said last week as she outlined the aid plan. “Consider this a down payment—one more piece of evidence of our commitment to all Californians. UC will continue to be a vehicle for social mobility.”

    Her plan sets aside $5 million in university money—“right now, for this year”—to support the estimated 900 undocumented students on University of California campuses with resources including trained advisors, student service centers and financial aid. Her staff says the money would come not from state revenues or tuition, but from extra reserves in discretionary accounts such as a home mortgage assistance fund for faculty.

    But Napolitano’s reassurances were not enough to satisfy Ju Hong, a recent Cal political science graduate and an undocumented immigrant. Hong was arrested with four other protestors at UC San Francisco in July when the Board of Regents confirmed Napolitano.

    “First, she clearly remains unsympathetic to undocumented youth,” Hong says. “The (aid package) was obviously motivated by self-interest. She’s trying to defuse the controversy. She’s trying to salvage her image, nothing else. She’s a politician, and her motivations are political— they have nothing to do with ‘concern’ for undocumented students.”

    Second, says Hong, $5 million hardly represents a meaningful commitment to undocumented immigrants. “It’s chump change,” he says. “You divide $5 million among the 10 UC campuses – what real good is it going to do?”

    Siti Rahmaputri, an undocumented Cal undergrad studying molecular and cell biology, and a member of the San Francisco-based group Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE), also expressed misgivings about the aid package—and Napolitano.

    “It’s just a Band-aid,” Rahmaputri says of the $5 million. “It does nothing to address the real problem, the real pain that undocumented youth experience every day. A group of us met with Napolitano on her second day of office. It was clear she was seeing us because of the pressure that was on her—but it was also clear she had no real interest in us. This money—she just throws it at (undocumented students) and expects our issues to go away. But they won’t go away. She doesn’t understand what’s going on with us, and she doesn’t want to know.”

    Both Rahmaputri and Hong emphasized the stress of negotiating student life as an undocumented immigrant. Both are temporarily protected from deportation because they are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, which freezes deportation proceedings for two years. But that hardly engenders a feeling of transcendent relief.

    “I didn’t even know I was undocumented until I was getting ready to enroll for college and I asked my mother for my social security number,” says Hong, who emigrated from South Korea. “She told me I didn’t have one because I wasn’t a legal resident. It was devastating. Ever since then, I feel like I’ve been looking over my shoulder. My house was burglarized, and we didn’t call the police. Why? Because of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which Napolitano authorized. That allows local police to function as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents. We were worried that if I called the cops to investigate the theft, I’d get deported.”

    Rahmaputri came to the U.S. with her family when she was 11, and says that the threat of deportation has overshadowed her life ever since. “At one point, I received my deportation papers. I have one year left to go on my Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals exemption, but what then? At times, I feel like people are watching me. It affects your studies, your work. Everything.”

    Responding to the criticism of Napolitano, her office’s media relations director Steve Montiel points out that she was an early supporter of the stalled federal DREAM act, which would provide a path for citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

    “On her first day as president of the University of California, she told Gov. Brown the Trust Act (a state act that significantly eases restrictions on undocumented immigrants) would be good for California,” Montiel writes, “and she was happy that he signed it into law later that week.”

    Referring to the meeting that Rahmaputri attended, Montiel adds that his boss “met with a group of undocumented students and UC’s two student regents the morning of her second day on the job. And she has met with dozens of students, undocumented as well as documented, during visits to UC campuses.”

    But Hong insists it’s too late for Napolitano to make amends.

    “If she really ‘cares,’ she should do three things,” he said. “First, bring back the undocumented families she deported when she was with Homeland Security. Second, she should apologize to them. Third, she should resign.”

    Montiel demurs. “People will make their own judgments,” he writes. “It’s worth noting, however, that President Napolitano’s fiercest critics across the country continue to be those who oppose giving documented students the same opportunities as other students. She will continue to do everything in her power to ensure that all UC students have access to the financial aid and services they need to thrive and succeed.”

    For more background:

    Ratified Raspberry: But have such Berkeley student votes every accomplished anything?

    Posted on November 5, 2013 - 4:09pm

    Poor illegals $5 million is just a band-aid to them. Wah OK sarcasm off. I would have been thrilled if my own children received part of the $5 million to help with their education no matter how small the amount was. But of course my legal US citizen kids would not have qualified anyway.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Raspberry Ratified: But have such Berkeley student votes ever accomplished anything?

    Janet Napolitano may have earned the support of the UC Board of Regents, but at Berkeley, the Associated Students of the University of California are not so easily swayed.

    Convening for their weekly meeting, the student senators of ASUC have offered their collective assessment of the UC system’s controversial new president. And, lo, the former Homeland Security chief has been found wanting.

    Senate Bill 2, which passed unanimously Wednesday night, fell just short of an unconditional “no confidence” vote—instead the elected representatives of the Berkeley student body politic decided to issue Napolitano a list of demands. Each of these demands is accompanied by a specific deadline, the last of which expires in the third week of October. Failure to meet these deadlines, the bill concludes, will result in an automatic vote of no confidence from Berkeley’s ASUC.

    You’ve been warned, Napolitano.

    Of course, with the fix long since in on Napolitano’s hire and with the Berkeley legislative body lacking an army to enforce its will, a skeptic has to wonder: just what exactly does the ASUC’s confidence count for, anyway?

    According to Sean Tan, the third-year economics undergrad who authored SB 2, while the ASUC might not accomplish much more in this case than expressing its institutional displeasure, the students’ senate floor is a uniquely prominent forum on campus for airing otherwise unaired grievances. “As an undocumented student myself, I want to represent those students who still feel marginalized and, in a larger sense, to push for student participation,” he told us.

    Berkeley isn’t flying solo here—student senators at UC Irvine passed a straight “no confidence” vote in Napolitano last week, although a similar measure was rejected last week by the student assembly of the entire University of California system. But only Berkeley’s student senate opted to issue Napolitano a nine-part ultimatum.

    The Berkeley-approved bill challenges Napolitano, who stepped down as the nation’s top cop on immigration enforcement last week, to make the state-wide system less hostile to undocumented students. To wit, the bill calls upon Napolitano to hold town hall meetings with undocumented student organizations, organize annual UC Police Department training tutorials on the legal rights of all students regardless of immigration status, and to reassert each UC campus as a “sanctuary and safe space for undocumented students.”

    “It’s important for our student government to ensure that the administration is accountable to students,” said Tan. “That’s especially true when it comes to policies that are enacted at our university and throughout the UC campuses.”

    Blowing what amounts to a ratified raspberry at the new UC head, in other words, is more than just empty symbolism to supporters. These kinds of motions channel the voices of those who aren’t often listened to while engendering “a bigger conversation” about issues often ignored—both on campus and off.

    Over the last few decades, there have been plenty of big conversations within the ASUC, which has become a familiar forum for the staking of frequently symbolic positions. The most recent and notably heated topic on which the senate has decided to weigh in: divestment from Israel and from its alleged enablers in the multinationally corporate sector. In recent memory, the student legislators have also voted to divest—or called upon the university to pull its own cash—from fossil fuel companies, the government of Sudan, and “the prison-industrial complex.”

    Beyond financial protest, issues ranging from fair trade to conflict minerals to Occupy to affirmative action have all raised the hackles of the ASUC Senate.

    And at least sometimes, the ASUC proves itself ahead of the political curve, a notable example being its opposition to apartheid in South Africa.

    The results of these many resolutions, as one might expect from any university student assembly, have been decidedly mixed—and may depend on how one defines success. Last year’s vote calling on the UC system to divest from companies affiliated with the Israeli military garnered nothing more than a short written response from the then-chancellor and a sporadic flash of international media attention, particularly from conservative outlets. Even last week, the move to table Tan’s no confidence vote for review by the ASUC Senate’s external affairs committee—a mundane procedural move within a college student government—drew coverage from the Washington Times.

    By some standards, that could certainly be considered engendering “a bigger conversation.” But by others, the controversies that often accompany these votes follow a typical—and typically unproductive—trajectory.

    “I think it’s lazy journalism,” says Matteen Mokalla, a former ASUC senator who now works for Aljazeera. “ASUC passes something, then you get the media which goes, ‘Oh, Berkeley doing something crazy, here they go again.’ ”

    The perhaps anachronistic reputation of Cal as a hotbed of radical agitation, says Mokalla, often allows ASUC motions to act as short-hand for the current state of progressive, college-kid attitudes.

    Mokalla says that he doesn’t want to discredit the actual value the ASUC provides on campus—he recalls using his power as senator to fix a scheduling snafu for an intramural hockey team: “doing the people’s work!” But as for the obligatory staking out of positions within the senate, and the arguably bloated sense of standing it receives as the result of frenzied media coverage, “It’s just pretty silly.”

    But even if the internecine conflicts within the ASUC over, say, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are inflated in value by an unthinking press corps, such coverage, regardless of its motivation, does at least get people talking.

    That’s the view of David Lance Goines, an artist who chronicled the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in a 1993 book. “They’ve come a long way,” he says of the ASUC’s vote on Napolitano. “They did not participate beneficially during the Free Speech Movement.

    “But they seem to be playing a different role now.”

    According to Goines, who said he would welcome a no confidence vote against Napolitano, that role of registering dismay in a singularly conspicuous way on campus is “a start. If nothing else, I think this could give more courage to those in the faculty who would otherwise be reluctant to speak up,” he said. “I’m glad to hear that this has engaged some students to stand up for themselves. Any kind of voice that speaks up has got to be a good thing.”

    —Ben Christopher

    Posted on September 12, 2013 - 12:42pm

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