University Chancellor: Identifying Illegal Alien Students Has ‘No Educational Purpose’

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Numerous universities expressed support and, or offered resources for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students in January, including one whose chancellor said identifying illegal alien students serves “no educational purpose.”

The University of Texas, Amherst University, Cornell University, and the University of California, Berkeley are among the schools signaling support for DACA students.

“We do not discuss the immigration status of our students nor do UT institutions track DACA status, because there is no educational purpose for identifying these students,” said William H. McRaven, the University of Texas system chancellor and retired Navy admiral. McRaven went on to suggest that universities are legally obliged to “protect” this information.

UC Berkeley, along with Californian Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, petitioned for the release of Luis Mora, a Berkeley student who received in-state tuition at the school despite not qualifying for DACA. UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ promised “access to legal advice, attorney services, and other resources” and wrote to the judge assigned to Mora’s case, encouraging his release.

Prerna Lal, a Berkeley employee who also served as Mora’s lawyer, paid the illegal alien student’s $1,500 bail and maintained an aggressive Twitter campaign for Mora’s release throughout his Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. Lal has also tweeted on various occasions about racial issues, saying “don’t trust white men,” suggesting she would bargain away whites in her community, and calling white Americans “the original Nazis,” reported Campus Unmasked.

Despite all of this administrative effort, Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE), which campaigns for illegal immigrant rights at Berkeley, still rebuked the school for not doing enough.

Amherst College president Biddy Martin and over 200 other college presidents are members of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a group that “support[s] policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented and international students on our campuses.” Martin said illegal immigrant students “were raised as Americans and have the right to remain in the place they call home.”

“We continue to fully support our DACA and undocumented students by providing a multitude of resources, including the services of an immigration attorney, individual counseling, legal advocacy and opportunities to be in community on campus and to connect with community-based organizations, among others,” said Norm Jones and Tenzin Kunor, who serve as Amherst’s chief diversity and inclusion officer and associate director of diversity and leadership, respectively.


Cornell University also offered emergency funds totaling up to $495 for students to renew DACA status and gain employment authorization. The New York school is not the only one offering free legal aid for illegal immigrant students.

In his own endorsement of DACA, University of Colorado, Boulder chancellor Philip P. DiStefano noted an often-overlooked aspect of illegal alien attendance at American universities; these students qualify for in-state tuition at public universities in 18 states, affording them the same, relatively inexpensive educational opportunities as taxpaying state residents.

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