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University Message

President Armstrong: Undocumented Cal Poly Community Members 'Are Mustangs, Now and Forever'

A shot of Cal Poly's entrance with flags.

This message originally appeared as an email to the campus community that was sent out on Thursday, June 18 in response to the Supreme Court's ruling that rejected the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Dear Campus Community:

I'd like to start by acknowledging the stress and emotion we are feeling during this tumultuous and overwhelming moment in American history. We are in the midst of a pandemic. At the same time, we are witness to shocking murders of black lives and the ongoing systemic racism in our country that they reveal. In this context, I'm pleased to report that the U.S. Supreme Court has just released a decision that will hopefully reduce the stress that some members of our community have been experiencing.

The Court's decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California concerns the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, under which some undocumented people in the United States have been eligible for protection from deportation and a permit to work legally in the U.S., because they had immigrated as minors, usually with their parents.

This program was created under the Obama administration, based on the idea that recipients had not chosen as adults to violate any U.S. laws, that the U.S. was for all practical purposes their home, and that the interests of justice were best served by allowing them to stay in the U.S. to continue studying, working and contributing to their communities. In 2017, the Trump administration suspended the DACA program, leading to several lawsuits, which are the basis of the Court's decision.

Cal Poly is deeply committed to its undocumented, DACA, AB540 students and undocumented and DACA staff. Please know that we will continue to provide support through the Dream Center and the Multicultural Center for students, and through Human Resources for staff.

The Court's decision today held that the Trump administration's suspension of the DACA program was unlawful. This is welcome news for the more than 650,000 DACA participants, including the Cal Poly students who had participated in the program, the larger group who may have been eligible but have not participated because of the program's uncertain legal status, and any Cal Poly employees who may be affected.

I share in the relief that those affected by this decision are feeling today, and also in the hope that a long-term solution can be arrived at soon regularizing DACA participants' status and letting them get out from the cloud of uncertainty that they have been living under.

Although opinions may differ about today's decision, the DACA program, or immigration policy more generally, the CSU system has made our position clear: individuals without legalized status who attend Cal Poly or any of our sister campuses are welcome and are to be treated with the same love, empathy and respect as everyone else. I want to be equally clear: undocumented members of the Cal Poly community are Mustangs, now and forever. We will continue to welcome them in our community, support their educational pursuits and help them advocate for themselves. I also want to be clear that Cal Poly will not aid or support any actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) on our campus.

Any member of the community who believes they are affected by today's decision should know that a variety of resources are available to support you, even virtually. There are counselors with expertise in this area; knowledgeable financial aid staff; staff from the Cross Cultural Centers currently filling in for the Dream Center coordinator; and a Dream Center resource page. Students can also contact the Associate Deans for Diversity and Inclusion in their colleges for college-specific support and information. I also want to be clear that this decision does not affect funding or benefits that students may be receiving under California AB 540.

Further, direct immigration legal services are available free of charge to CSU students and employees due to a collaboration with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Attorneys and paralegals are available to assist with renewals and general assistance filling out forms such as family-based petitions. CSU legal service providers are currently meeting with students and employees virtually.

Finally, I want the people without legalized status in our community to know that they are valued as people, as students, as colleagues and as human beings who bring unique and valuable talents, skills and perspectives to the Cal Poly community.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong