Last week, University of California president Janet Napolitano announced that she would allocate $5 million to provide special counseling and financial aid to illegal immigrant students. According to reports, Napolitano designated the funds for yet unspecified purposes to dispel notions among some critics that she’s insensitive to UC’s illegal immigrant enrollment. [“$5 million Pledged to Aid Students Living in US Illegally,” by Lisa Leff, NBCLosAngeles.com, October 31, 2013]
For the last five years, Californians have read nonstop crisis stories about UC budget shortfalls. Between 2008 and 2012, UC's state appropriations dropped by $900 million. In response, UC instigated systemwide staff salary reductions, mostly through furloughs. Tuition doubled; classes were cancelled, and outraged students protested.
To partially make up for the revenue decline, the university embarked on a campaign to attract more out-of-state students who pay a tuition rate three times higher than Californians. But looking at the overall budget picture, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birengeau said, “The reality is that the current budget is not stable in the long run and so the challenges are not over.” California’s illegal immigrant college students, it should be noted, pay the lower in-state fee.
Despite this grim fiscal backdrop, all of a sudden Napolitano can find, magically, $5 million to placate illegal immigrants and their sympathizers. Berkeley already has a well funded, well staffed Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. That should be enough, but is obviously not, to satisfy illegal immigrants’ special needs.
The notion that Napolitano may be unfeeling toward illegal immigrants is preposterous. Dating back to 2003 when she became Arizona’s governor and during her years from 2009 to 2013 as Department of Homeland Security Secretary, few have been more consistent advocates for aliens’ rights, illegal immigration and comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty) than Napolitano. She was a reliable witness in recent comprehensive immigration reform hearings and could be counted on to testify that border security “is better now that it ever has been.”
While at DHS, Napolitano relied on prosecutorial discretion and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memo as her preferred methods of nondeportation. Under prosecutorial discretion, ICE released illegal immigrants unless they were deemed to be a threat to public safety or national security. DACA protected certain young illegal immigrants from deportation and issued them work permits.
UC’s illegal immigrant students need not fear Napolitano nor, for that matter, other California lawmakers who work tirelessly to make sure the rule of law doesn’t interrupt their cozy campus lifestyles.