UCalifornia system working to evade employment restrictions on hiring undocumented students

UC's President and Board of Regents Chair stated that the decision is consistent with the school system's commitment to offer a 'world-class' education to all students 'regardless of their immigration status.'

Former Trump White House legal advisor May Mailman told Campus Reform that UC's decision conflicts with federal immigration law.

On May 18, University of California (UC) President Michael Drake and Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib issued a joint statement indicating that the school system plans to remove employment restrictions for hiring undocumented students.

“The University is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their immigration status, can pursue and attain a world-class UC education,” they stated. “This should include providing enriching student employment opportunities to all students.”

Drake and Leib said that the UC Board of Regents ultimately met and appointed a “Regents working group that, by the end of November of this year, will consider relevant issues and develop an implementation plan and a legal strategy.”

[RELATED: Cal Poly hosts separate graduation ceremonies for ‘undocumented’ and disabled students]

UC’s decision comes after ongoing pressure from “undocumented student leaders” to force UC officials into reinterpreting federal law and allow for all undocumented students, not just federally protected “Dreamers” (DACA recipients), to gain employment opportunities at UC schools.  

The “Opportunity for All” campaign, a coalition of mostly students and activists from UCLA, has led the push, suggesting that “the federal prohibition on hiring undocumented people does not include state entities like the University of California.” 

“This means that the University of California already has the legal authority to hire undocumented students for all educational employment positions,” the group argues.

Under existing federal immigration law, “It is unlawful for a person or other entity to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.” 

[RELATED: GIORDANO: ‘What is citizenship worth if you can get better benefits by being illegally here?’]

According to May Mailman, a former White House legal advisor, this decision by the UC system could create a “crater” in fines for the state of California. 

Mailman told Campus Reform that the legal interpretation made by UC’s “lefty professors” was “not just a bad argument,” but “a really bad argument.”

“The lefty professors say ‘person or other entity’ does not include state[s] because, basically, (1) Congress would say state if it meant to include [a] state and (2) Congress has to speak clearly when stepping into areas of core state authority,” said Mailman. “That would be a bad argument because Congress explicitly exempts ‘states’ from employer regulation if they are not meant to be covered, especially where we’re talking about state-funded entities like UCLA.”

She continued, “As a general matter, I’m in favor of states having more say over immigration. But if we’re going to make ‘rules’ that these lefty professors want, like Congress has to speak clearly when limiting the states’ power over immigrants in their borders, then make the rule.”  

“But these lefty professors do not want this rule. When Arizona tries to implement citizenship verification to vote, all of a sudden states should not have any leeway. There’s absolutely no consistency here.”

The UC system includes over 280,000 students across 10 campuses. 

Campus Reform contacted the UC President’s office for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow Emily Fowler on Twitter.