Berkeley’s Undocumented Students

Undocumented students are young people who are illegally living in the United States with or without their parents. Mainly, these are people under 30 years of age, who are limited in their studies and face some unique problems in their daily life. According to DREAMers at Cal: The Impact of Immigration Status on Undocumented Students at the University of California at Berkeley, there are approximately 11.7 million undocumented immigrants that live in the USA. Most of them came to the U.S. when they were kids and had a chance to spend some time within the education system in the U.S. With the language barriers, they have to deal with the problems related to the finances, bullying, isolation from the society, and fear of being deported. These students often feel ashamed, they hide their legal status and are afraid to tell the truth as they usually get bullied and excluded from the society they live in. This is not only a social problem in the USA, but also a very personal problem for each undocumented student. According to the site Inside Highered, most undocumented students suffer from depression and anxiety. Of course, it’s not surprising that everything these students experience in their lives influences their mental and physical health. It’s clear that something must be done in order to help these people. One suggestion is that colleges should be more supportive of their undocumented students and that they should be reviewing policies about the issues, such as financial aid, admissions, and internships. Some people believe that colleges could create centers for support groups that would work especially for undocumented students. This would be very helpful, as the students would have a place where they could go to share concerns and seek resources.

2.8 million undocumented students have found their home in California.

So far, California is a leader in raising the access to public universities and giving away financial support for the undocumented and other students who can not afford the education. However, it’s still not enough, as the system should be more advanced in order to make sure that disadvantaged students have equal access to public universities.

One of the most popular and well-known programs for undocumented students in California, and perhaps in the whole US, is Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program (USP). This program is one of the most significant and influential programs among those that support students with these unique problems.

USP’s values are based on a united, multicultural and solution-focused approach that helps the university deal with the inequality problem and provide every student with equal choices and rights. The USP makes sure that all the students always receive help from the academic counseling, financial aid resources, and legal support. This network, provided by the USP, helps students explore and develop the unique talents that all the students bring to the university. In addition to that, the USP tries to empower a sense of belonging among undocumented students. The program’s goal is to support the advancement of undocumented students within higher education and promote pathways for engaged scholarship.

During the past few years, the support for undocumented students with programs, such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) California, financial aid and other support services available at U.C. Berkeley have significantly grown. University of California has also been a big part of the development, helping the USP to launch systemwide resources for undocumented students and has done many other things to show their support. However, the USP fears that the president-elect Donald Trump will most likely end most of the programs like DACA as soon as he takes over the office on January 20, 2017.

What is DACA? DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is a sort of administrative relief from deportation. The protection from deportation of young immigrants is the main aim of DACA. It doesn’t only protect immigrants from being deported, but also gives them the permission to work. The program works for 2 years for each person. After 2 years, it needs to be renewed. Unfortunately, today, the USP doesn’t officially advise undocumented immigrants to file for the DACA benefits as the future of the immigrants in USA is unclear, because of the governmental change and possible new policies provided by Donald Trump.

Hopefully, undocumented students will no longer have to face the unique problems. However, their future is unclear, because of the governmental change in the U.S.A.

This article was written by Nino Aphakidze.