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University of California plans to hire illegal immigrants

One immigration law expert says it incentivizes the wrong behavior

The University of California Board of Regents recently voted to move forward with plans to hire illegal immigrant students for campus jobs, despite federal law seeming to prohibit it.

The new policy directs a “working group” to come up with implementation plans by the end of 2023.

The change comes after scholars with the UCLA Center for Law and Immigration Policy, Hiroshi Motmura and Ahilan Arulanaltham, published a letter that argued the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not apply to states.

Arulanaltham told The College Fix via email that he hopes to be involved in implementation of the new “Equitable Student Employment Opportunities” policy.

“The UC Regents have yet to set up their task force to pursue implementation (at least so far as know), but we are hopeful they will consult with UC students directly impacted by this proposal and me and my colleagues at the Center for Immigration Law and Policy to the extent possible,” the law professor told The Fix.

The law center’s “legal analysis has been publicly endorsed by 29 of the most respected immigration and constitutional law professors from around the country, including the Deans of the UC Berkeley and UC Davis law schools,” Arulanaltham said.

The Fix had asked what specific court cases led to the conclusion that the immigration act of 1986 did not apply to the states. The law made it “unlawful for a person or other entity” to hire someone who is “unauthorized to work” in the country.

MORE: Biden immigration rule will harm American college graduates

Arulanaltham explained that the legal analysis covered a variety of Supreme Court cases to conclude “that state entities like the University of California are not bound by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act.”

He also said that there “are currently thousands of college students at state universities in California who cannot obtain the same educational employment opportunities as their peers solely due to their immigration status,” such as “work study jobs, paid internships, student leadership positions in campus organizations” and other paid opportunities.

“For that reason, our proposal could serve as an important way of ensuring equal educational opportunity among all admitted students,” the professor said.

However, a former chief counsel for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who also advised Republicans in the U.S. House for two decades on immigration issues disagreed with the UC decision.

“If UC officials go forward and actually knowingly hire aliens not authorized to work under federal law, the university system will face potential civil and criminal penalties, and the officials involved will face potential criminal penalties,” George Fishman told The Fix via email. He currently works as a legal fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies and previously served in President Donald Trump’s administration.

Although Fishman believes these plans will not go unpunished, he says that this will depend on the federal government’s willingness to pursue legal action against the university system.

“Whether they will actually be investigated, fined, or prosecuted depends on the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security,” Fishman said. “It may or may not happen under the Biden administration, but could still be pursued by a future administration.“

While there is a possibility that the University of California will face sanctions in the future for their plans to hire illegal immigrants, Fishman told The Fix that the UC system’s plans will degrade immigration law and hurt Americans.

“Allowing State universities to knowingly hire and employ unauthorized aliens trivializes the immigration laws and condones and encourages future violations, to the detriment of the job opportunities and future career prospects of American students and workers,” he said.

He predicted that “public university systems” in other states “would follow UC’s lead either on their own initiative or that of their State governments or under pressure from students, professors, or outside groups.”

MORE: Ban students from China until espionage stops, expert suggests

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About the Author
Oscar Buynevich -- Temple University