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Assembly Passes Measure Allowing Illegal Immigrant Students to Work at California Colleges and Universities

Assembly Passes Measure Allowing Illegal Immigrant Students to Work at California Colleges and Universities

Students walk on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, California, on April 23, 2012. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

5/29/2024

Updated: 5/29/2024

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A bill that would allow students who are illegal immigrants to work at California colleges and universities passed the state Assembly on May 22.
Currently, students must obtain a work permit to hold jobs on campus. That would change under Assembly Bill 2586, introduced by Assemblyman David Alvarez of San Diego.
“America has always promised that if you work hard, you will have the opportunity to succeed,” the lawmaker said May 24 in a statement. “Creating these pathways to secure employment is essential.”
The bill passed on a vote of 59-4.
Under the bill, schools cannot disqualify a student from employment for failing to provide proof of a federal work authorization unless it is required specifically for a position by federal law or as a condition of a grant funding the position.
If the bill were to become law, the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community College (CCC) systems would not enforce the federal ban on hiring illegal immigrants.
The legislation is based on the premise that California’s public colleges and universities should be exempt from the 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, which prevents employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
When Congress passed the act, it “did not curtail states’ historic power to determine the employment qualifications of state employees. As a result, [the act’s] prohibition on hiring undocumented persons does not bind state government entities,” UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy wrote in a 2022 memorandum it published.
If passed, the three systems will begin implementing the change by Jan. 6, 2025.
An analysis of the bill cited the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2023 estimating that California has the most illegal immigrant college students in the nation, with around 83,000 across its higher education systems.
“These students have fulfilled their obligation and are ready to be our future teachers, scientists, doctors, and public servants,” Mr. Alvarez, the assembly member, said.
While the UC did not take a stance on the bill, President Michael Drake issued a statement in January declaring it not feasible for several reasons.
According to Mr. Drake, employees might face criminal or civil prosecution for knowingly engaging in practices prohibited by federal law, and the UC could incur civil fines, criminal penalties, or be barred from federal contracting for violating the immigration reform act. It could also lose billions of dollars in federal contracts and grants contingent on compliance.
“We have concluded that the proposed legal pathway is not viable at this time, and in fact carries significant risk for the institution and for those we serve,” the president said.
The bill is currently awaiting assignment to a committee in the state Senate.
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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