UC Berkeley allocating up to $800k for 'undocumented' students

After meeting with an illegal immigrant student who was detained by ICE shortly before New Year's, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ announced a massive expansion of resources for "undocumented" students on campus.

Part of the commitment involves allocating $800,000 to a grant fund that provides need-based financial aid, and a spokesperson said the school anticipates that "many of those who qualify will be undocumented students."

The University of California-Berkeley is planning to allocate between $400,000 and $800,000 toward services for “undocumented” students on campus.

The move comes amid ongoing tensions related to the detention of Berkeley student Luis Mora by federal immigration officials, with some students accusing the university of being lacklustre in its support for Mora.

According to The Daily Californian, Mora met with UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ Tuesday, February 6, after which she announced plans to expand the undocumented student resource center and allocate $800,000 to the “DACA Financial Gap” initiative, which provides financial aid to DACA students.

[RELATED: Attorney for detained Berkeley student admits he ‘doesn’t have DACA’]

The discussion concerning resources for undocumented students at UC Berkeley has been in the spotlight ever since Perna Lal, an attorney who provides legal services for the school’s undocumented students, complained that she didn't have an office on campus.

“I’ve been an attorney for Berkeley’s undocumented student program for 2+ years now. I still don’t have an office on campus. I still get locked out of buildings. I still don’t have rooms to use for meetings with students. Berkeley doesn’t care about us,” said Lal.

UC Berkeley Senior Director of Strategic Communications Janet Gilmore told Campus Reform that the school has had an undocumented student center since 2012, but said Christ is seeking to find "additional office space" because the staff has grown significantly over the past 5-6 years.

According to the Daily Cal, the university is also planning to dedicate funds for a “sustainable financial strategy” to assist students who are at risk of losing their DACA status, setting aside $800,000 for a single semester of the upcoming academic year.

[RELATED: UC system allots $5M in aid to illegals, legal immigrants not eligible]

Gilmore, however, told Campus Reform that the figure reported in the school paper is actually being allocated to “a general grant fund” for students with “basic needs” such as housing or food insecurity.

Half of the funds will be derived from sources earmarked for undocumented students, while the other half will be monies designated for need-based financial assistance, though Gilmore noted that the school anticipates “that many of those who qualify will be undocumented students.”

“The pool of money is for grants that are part of the campus’s larger efforts to deal with basic needs (housing and food security),” she elaborated. “The grants are not limited to a particular student community, but rather based on highest need. Many students in our undocumented student community may be among that group.”

In addition to students who demonstrate significant financial need in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, Gilmore said grants will be awarded on the basis of criteria that disproportionately apply to illegal immigrant students.

“Student populations identified as having the lowest basic needs security,” for instance, can qualify for assistance, as can those who “do not qualify for public service programs.” Notably, Gilmore also stated that “priority is given to students who, for legal or other reasons (e.g., disability), are not able to work.”

[RELATED: ICE: Detained Berkeley student wasn’t allowed to enroll]

Rudraveer Reddy, a member of the UC-Berkeley College Republicans, told Campus Reform that he does not think it is appropriate to put aside funds for undocumented immigrants.

“Apparently it isn't enough for the university to raise tuition on hard-working students,” said Reddy. “They're now allocating hard-earned tax dollars to illegal aliens in the guise of tolerance.”

Reddy add that he considers the allocation of such a large amount of money inappropriate at a time of tuition hikes and state budget crunches.

“UC Berkeley received less funds from Governor Brown's state budget and, as a result, it has been forced to hike tuitions for its students,” Reddy pointed out. “In such times, forking over a million dollars [sic] to persons who didn't follow the law is a proposition I find baffling.”

Gilmore told Campus Reform that funding for the grants will come from "a mix of funds from donors, UCOP [University of California Office of the President], and other UC Berkeley campus funds."

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