UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference today (Oct. 25) in support of the Dream Act — legislation that would counteract President Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA affords undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as children, the right to stay in the country. But Trump says, no more: DACA ends March 5.
“The idea that DACA students could be deported as early as March 6 is chilling to me,” said May, who appeared at the news conference as a representative of the UC system.
The news conference, organized by congressional Democrats and carried live on the Senate Democrats YouTube channel, included remarks by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, among other representatives.
UC Regent Richard Blum also spoke, along with other leaders in higher education, including Chancellor Kristina Johnson of the State University of New York.
Two “Dreamers” also gave remarks: Nejvi Bejko, who came with her parents to the United States from Albania at the age of 9 and today is an aspiring designer, a graduate of Michigan State University; and Leezia Dhalla, who was 6 when she moved to Texas with her parents and subsequently graduated from Northwestern University
UC Davis ‘Dreamers’
Chancellor May spoke about the “Dreamers” who attend UC Davis, saying “they represent some of our most dedicated and inspirational students.” And those who have graduated, he said, “have blossomed with careers in medicine, law, social work and much more.”
Read UC Davis student Karla Ornelas' op-ed in The Sacramento Bee: “A ‘Dreamer’ Wants to Give Back to the Central Valley.”
“These students contribute to a rich diversity of cultures and perspectives that is integral to the success of our university as a global university,” May said. “They are paving the future for themselves and their families so they can give back to our society.”
The chancellor continued: “We must give the best and brightest a chance to shine, no matter where they happened to be born, or how they were brought here as children. … They deserve to pursue a college education without fear of deportation.”
Pelosi: Dream Act will be law by year’s end
Trump announced Sept. 5 his decision to rescind DACA and tweeted a few hours later that “Congress now has six months to legalize” the program. A bipartisan slate of legislators already had moved to do just that, through the Dream Act of 2017, introduced in the Senate in July but not yet voted on.
“We are determined that this Dream Act will be the law of the land before the end of the year,” Pelosi said at today’s news conference. “We reach out to our Republican colleagues with great anticipation that what they say about supporting the Dreamers will be reflected in their vote on the bill.”
She thanked President Trump “for his commitment to support the Dream Act” and added: “He’s told us if it comes to his desk he will sign it.”
Chancellor May’s remarks
You can watch the entire news conference here (UC Regent Richard Blum introduces Chancellor May at :30.28). Or click here to go directly to the chancellor's introduction and remarks.
Here is a transcript of his remarks:
Distinguished members of Congress, fellow academic leaders and members of the press and “Dreamers.” It’s a pleasure to be here with you today representing the University of California system. As Regent Blum said, my name is Gary May, I’m the chancellor of the University of California at Davis. I applaud the hard work of our congressional leaders to protect the Dreamers. At UC Davis, they represent some of our most dedicated and inspirational students –– people like Karla Ornelas, a third-year psychology and pre-med major at UC Davis.
Karla’s dream is to return to California’s Central Valley as a bilingual family doctor to care for the health of its immigrants — many of whom are farmworkers contributing to California’s $45 billion agriculture industry.
UC Davis graduates who were protected from deportation under DACA have blossomed with careers in medicine, law, social work and much more.
We have DACA students from across the world, including Latin America, China and the Philippines.
These students contribute to a rich diversity of cultures and perspectives that is integral to the success of our university as a global university. They are paving the future for themselves and their families so they can give back to our society.
As Karla recently wrote in The Sacramento Bee, “I did not come here to steal or take, but only to offer and earn. I carry the burden of my parents’ sacrifices and my community’s needs. I have claimed the American dream as my own.”
Turning our backs on Karla and other Dreamers is not who we are at UC Davis. Instead, we give them the tools and support to succeed.
One of my goals as chancellor is to make our university a model institution for diversity and inclusion. Our commitment to supporting DACA students goes to the heart of who we are at UC Davis.
We’re guided by the University of California principles that champion equal access to higher education for students of all backgrounds. We welcome and support all students without regard to their immigration status.
This isn’t about bowing to political correctness. Inclusion and diversity are essential to our academic success in an increasingly global economy.
If we’re going to make an impact as a global university, we must first open our doors to the world. More than ever, we need to prepare our students for a global economy that depends on workers who are diverse in backgrounds, fluent in cultural competencies and possess foreign language skills.
We must give the best and brightest a chance to shine, no matter where they happened to be born, or how they were brought here as children.
Our AB 540 and Undocumented Student Center is a model of empowerment, opportunity and equity. During this critical time, the center helps to guide our DACA students through their financial, legal and even emotional challenges. The center provides a sense of community and solidarity. It’s a show of support and humanity for these students as they seek a path to success.
They deserve to pursue a college education without fear of deportation.
The idea that DACA students could be deported as early as March 6 is chilling to me. In September, when the White House announced its intention to rescind the DACA program, I wrote an open letter to the campus community. I wanted to make it clear that UC Davis would never abandon our DACA students. I also called on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that would provide a permanent solution for our students.
That time must be now. We must continue to keep the American Dream alive, for all. Thank you.