UCSF Pledges Continued Support for DACA Students, Staff During Town Hall

David Wofsy, Ana Cruz, Walter Mancia and Amber Fitzsimmons talk during the Defending DACA forum in Cole Hall at UCSF’s Parnassus campus
Panelists at UCSF’s Defending DACA forum (from left) David Wofsy, MD, professor of Medicine; Ana Cruz, a fourth-year Pharmacy student; Walter Mancia, a second-year graduate student in Biomedical Sciences; and panel moderator Amber Fitzsimmons, PT, MS, DPTSc, assistant professor in Physical Therapy. Photo by Susan Merrell

For most of her life, Ana Cruz, a fourth-year student at UC San Francisco’s School of Pharmacy, was too ashamed and afraid to speak openly about her immigration status. The first time she talked about her undocumented status was her first day as a student at UCSF, during orientation.

“I felt it was time to be myself and open up, so I actually talked about my status. I just felt so welcome by everyone and that it was an open space,” Cruz said. “What really helped was knowing that there’s no judgment.”

She recounted her story during a forum held Thursday at UCSF to address the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In opening remarks for the Defending DACA forum, Renee Navarro, MD, vice chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, said, “It’s now more important than ever before for us to stand shoulder to shoulder together in defense of the rights of those who are members of the DACA program.”

Cruz was among the panelists at the forum held in Cole Hall, along with Walter Mancia, a graduate student in biomedical sciences, David Wofsy, MD, associate dean for admission for the School of Medicine, and Rachel Ray, an attorney at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center.

The forum was held to discuss the potential ramifications of changes to the DACA program and to reaffirm support for undocumented students and staff in the UCSF community.

Navarro called Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcement of the cancellation of DACA “horrific and callous” and said, “We’re going to fight this all the way.”

Rachel Ray talks during the Defending DACA forum in Cole Hall at UCSF’s Parnassus campus
Rachel Ray, JD, managing attorney at the University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center, explains DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) legislation and immigration resources available at UC during the Defending DACA forum. Photo by Susan Merrell

Ray spoke about the legal ramifications of the decision as well as pending federal legislation that could replace the program.

The DACA program, which went into effect in 2012, currently provides protection from deportation and work authorization for about 800,000 individuals. Ray urged those whose DACA benefits will expire before March 5, 2018, to renew them by Oct. 5, 2017. Those whose benefits expire after March 5 will not be able to renew and the program will no longer accept new applications.

Wofsy said that the admissions and financial aid policy across UCSF is to not discriminate on the basis of immigration status – although federal loans will not be available to undocumented students.

He also reaffirmed that the University has a very strong policy of not sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He added that these policies extend beyond DACA to all undocumented applicants. “That’s a fundamental principle for most of us, and that’s the principle we’ll still believe in six months from now in the worst-case scenario,” he said.

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.