College president pledges support to DACA and ‘fundamental commitments’ ahead of inauguration

De Anza College President Brian Murphy began an initiative to support and protect undocumented students, by way of two resolutions passed unanimously by the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees.

Those measures support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and refuse to create a registry based on protected characteristics.

Resolutions 2016-43 and 2016-44 were passed on Dec. 12 following the release of the joint statement from the University of California, the California State University and the California Community College System to President-elect Donald Trump elaborating the importance of supporting DACA.

Murphy said the board wanted to be on the record as well.

“It was part of a broader solidarity movement across the state of educational leaders making it clear to students, first of all to their families, but also to the broader public, that we have fundamental commitments that we’re not going to ignore,” Murphy said.

Cynthia Kaufman, director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action, is an ally and resource for undocumented students.

“All humans deserve basic human rights and deserve to be treated well and live well, and that includes people who don’t have papers,” said Kaufman. “I am very happy to be part of an institution that is so supportive of our undocumented students.”

Kaufman said she was impressed by not only the country’s and California’s support, but how all three institutions came together tosupport undocumented students.

“I know it means a lot to [the Dreamers] to know that everyone really cares about them and [want to] make sure they’re as safe as possible,” Kaufman said.

De Anza College will be holding several events to address any concerns students may have. Some examples include inviting an undocumented Pulitzer prize winner to speak about what’s at stake culturally and politically, as well as bringing in a legal team to provide free consultations for students.

“What this college is going to have to do is figure out how to be creative and thoughtful in responding to all our community who may feel pressure or a threat,” Murphy said.

“We’re really in uncharted waters,” Associate Vice President Marisa Spatafore said. Spatafore said administration would work with organizations such as the Office of Equity and VIDA. She also encouraged undocumented students to reach out to Higher Education for AB540 Students.

HEFAS is a program that serves as a place of community and advocacy for undocumented and low-income students. Services include helping students with financial aid and providing transfer information.

“If you are undocumented, nobody has to know you are,” Murphy said. “Reach out and find friends who can help you.”

Brenda Pantoja, recruitment coordinator for HEFAS, said she’ll keep on fighting and speak for those who don’t have a voice.

“The US has invested so much in the Dreamers … who want to pursue higher education and a better life,” said Pantoja. Pantoja was also appreciative of other allies such as the Black Leadership Collective, the Muslim Student Association and VIDA.