Press Release - June 18, 2020
Bakersfield College Reacts to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Positive Ruling for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Students
Bakersfield College has proudly and consistently supported all students’ right to a quality education. Today’s Supreme Court decision will allow immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, to thrive, work, and continue their education in the country they call home.
“This decision is significant for our Bakersfield College students. It means they can continue to focus their energy on successfully completing their degrees without the burden of not knowing where to call home,” said President Sonya Christian. “Our administration, faculty, and staff work alongside our undocumented students to create a space and support systems to ensure their academic and personal success. In a time of so much uncertainty, it is meaningful to have a win for young adults who have fought to earn their place in this country.”
Bakersfield College has seen a steady increase in the number of undocumented students pursing a higher education. Bakersfield College serves 2,189 undocumented students, many of whom live in our rural communities and have access to services and support through BC. The Undocumented Student Program (USP) is an expanded part of BC’s Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS) Program. Imelda Simos-Valdez, the Director of BC’s EOPS and undocumented support programs works directly to support BC’s undocumented student population.
“It is important for us as an academic institution to provide holistic support and resources for students, regardless of their citizenship status,” said Simos-Valdez. “We never accept ‘no’ as an answer to students’ issues. Instead, we aim to find solutions. Students benefit from BC’s USP programs, and we proactively work to engage students who need these services so they can focus on success in the classroom. At BC, we are committed to meeting all students’ needs and can offer priority registration, book vouchers, summer grants, educational counseling, and extra hours of tutoring, to name a few.”
In 2018, BC’s undocumented support programs received a grant from the Immigrants Rising nonprofit through their Catalyst Fund. With this private fund, BC developed the Conexiones Estudiantiles Project led by Latinos Unidos Por Education (LUPE)—BC’s undocumented student organization. LUPE introduces undocumented students to organizations, such as Immigrants Rising and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Los Angeles (CHIRLA), that inform undocumented students about laws governing their rights around DACA. Bakersfield College also offers a dedicated space and staffing to specifically serve undocumented students at BC.
“LUPE introduced me to CHIRLA, which gave me the opportunity to participate in a delegation of 30 student advocates in Washington, D.C. and serve as a witness of the oral arguments for DACA at the Supreme Court, as well as lobby with state senators and other California representatives to promote the Promise Act,” said Karen, an undocumented DACA recipient at Bakersfield College. “This ruling will allow me to continue pursuing my goals and my dreams, finish my education, start my career, and continue to provide for my son while supporting my parents. This is huge because I really will be able to make home here, and feel safe and welcome. I’ve worked hard to achieve my goals and this ruling confirms that the efforts I have put in are worthwhile. I am excited to continue with my plans.”
Bakersfield College has partnered with the California Community Chancellor’s Office Foundation and the United Farmworkers Foundation to provide legal services to students and their families seeking support submitting their citizenship applications or who may have questions related to the immigration process.
David Torres, Chair of BC’s Pre-Law Advisory group, was happy with the outcome. “I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today on the DACA ruling. It is quite comforting to know that the Rule of Law remains viable and robust in our democracy, despite numerous attacks upon its principles.” he stated.
Bakersfield College will continue to support a student’s right to an education through its programs and services.