A Los Angeles Times news story revealed that the University of California intends to hire illegal alien students even though they don’t have employment authorization documents, a brazen immigration law violation.
To defend their prospective lawless action, the UC regents fell back on wokeness, saying they were motivated to “reshape the lives of thousands of young people.” The regents also cited equity as a factor in their thought process. The Times noted that should UC proceed with its plan to hire illegal immigrants, the policy would be “controversial.”
Controversy would follow, for sure. On one side would be advocacy groups that promote higher immigration levels and are dismissive of federal law. The UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy opined, dubiously, that when Congress passed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), it did not curtail states’ power to determine the employment qualifications of state employees. As a result, the UCLA lawyers concluded the IRCA prohibition on hiring illegal aliens does not bind state government entities that “can lawfully hire undocumented students irrespective of employment authorization status under federal law.” At best, the logic is fuzzy.
On the opposing side are citizens and lawful permanent residents who believe that established laws on immigration at the federal level must be obeyed. Simply put, the UC regents don’t have authority over immigration laws. The regents, however, may be taking their lead from the current White House which, in the two years since President Biden’s inauguration, has broken multiple immigration laws. The regents also may be taking their cue from employers who have hired underage migrant children without work permits, with only token penalties. During the Biden presidency, Customs and Border Patrol apprehended about 10,000 migrants during the first seven months of FY 2023. Thousands more, the gotaways, eluded border agents and are now in the interior, actual locations unknown. As for the child labor shame, The New York Times calculated that “thousands” of illegal alien minors ended up in “punishing” jobs.
Years before Biden’s election, UC exhibited total disregard for immigration law. In 2016, then-UC president Janet Napolitano, a University of Virginia School of Law graduate, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, a previous Arizona governor and President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary, issued a title wave of immigration-related, lawless UC guidelines. As a U.S. Attorney and DHS secretary, Napolitano took an oath to uphold federal laws; she knew better than to intentionally break federal immigration laws.
Among her 2016 proclamations: alien students would be considered for admission as if they were U.S. citizens, the UC police were forbidden to cooperate with federal officials on student matters related to their immigration status, and UC would not liaise with federal officials on national origin matters. Napolitano’s announcement created a media splash even though the likelihood of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raiding the UC campus, or any other campus nationwide, to remove a student was zero.
Worth noting is that UC is a land-grant school, universities which were created in the mid-1850s to advance working-class Americans’ pursuit of success. Yet the regents, by considering granting work authorization to aliens, are moving full-speed-ahead to deny citizen students income opportunities.
The regents, if successful, will defy federal law, Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324, which prohibits bringing in and harboring aliens. Another broken law would be Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324 (a) – employers who hire aliens, knowing that they are unauthorized, are subject to fines not to exceed $3,000 per alien and/or not more than six months in jail.
Despite UCLA’s opinion, hiring illegal immigrants, unless they have temporary deferred action work permits (DACA), directly violates the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act which expressly forbade hiring individuals who do not have official work permission.
Beyond legalities, the now-considered-quaint question of basic fairness must be addressed. The regents must evaluate where U.S.-born citizen students whose families have funded UC for generations should fit into the equation. Campus jobs should go to citizens first – the right thing to do – and denied to students without valid work permission because to employ them is both illegal and unfair to native-born, multi-generational Americans.