California colleges urge Donald Trump to maintain DACA program for students

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The fear of mass deportations forced leaders at three California college systems to write a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The program, enacted by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows undocumented immigrants into the U.S. who entered the country if they were younger than 16 and have not committed any serious crimes.

During his campaign, Trump was a harsh critic of illegal immigration and recently vowed to deport as many as 3 million people who came into the country illegally. His rhetoric has raised concerns for many immigrants, especially among those in the DACA program.

But since the election, Trump has changed the focus of his immigration reform, saying that he will deport illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White, University of California President Janet Napolitano and incoming California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley wrote a letter to Trump.

In the letter, the leaders asked him to maintain the program to give the young immigrants a chance at a higher education so they can continue to contribute to their communities and the U.S.

Each public education system has thousands of DACA students and they are "constructive and contributing members of our communities," the letter said, adding that students are not a threat to public safety.

"They should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported, or rounded up for just trying to learn," the letter said.

Some students and immigration-advocacy groups have urged college campuses in California to be declared "sanctuaries" and off-limits to ICE agents who may act on any orders issued by the incoming administration.

Earlier in November, White wrote a letter to CSU students and staff that said he would not declare the 23 campuses in the system as sanctuaries, but that it would not honor or work with any law-enforcement agencies trying to enforce federal immigration laws.

Trump has not addressed the letter.

To view the full letter to Trump, you can read it by clicking here.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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