“You Are Welcome Here” is more than just a catch phrase; it is an idea very much connected to another phrase you will hear a lot around GWC: “Oceans of Opportunity.” Both phrases connect with our core mission of being an open-door institution. We Welcome Everyone.
Recently that idea has been challenged, and I have been asked to clarify what we know about newer executive orders that may impact Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, their parents, and other people new to the United States. First I must say that we do not have all the answers about what these changes will bring. We are a college that is governed by federal and state law, and Education Code, the Californian Community College Board of Governors, and our local Board of Trustees. So to say it is complicated is an oversimplification.
Our intentions stated clearly are: We want to provide everyone we can with a quality education. We want to welcome every person who wants to learn. We want to protect you and our College from getting into trouble or from harm to you or the College.
Below is a summarization of what our Board of Trustees stated in Board Resolution #17-04.
- The Coast Community College District serves a diverse student population.
- Current DACA legislation allows us to serve a large number of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, by parents in search of a better life.
- We comply with federal and state laws and regulations, such as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that governs the privacy of student records, AB 540, and the California DREAM Act, which exempt undocumented students from non-resident tuition and provide other benefits.
- The Coast Community College District supports its students and any legislation that will improve their quality of life and ability to pursue an education, and
- Our District will not release any personally identifiable student information related to immigration status without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by law; and
- The Board of Trustees of the Coast Community College District support efforts to ensure a continuation of protection for those granted temporary legal status under DACA.
The State Chancellor’s Office has also provided us guidance related to the matter.
- The California Community College Board of Governors clearly stated that they support the ability of all students attending our colleges to attend without fear or intimidation.
- On March 6th a revised executive order restricting travel and entry into the United States by individuals from six designated countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen).
- While the revised order is less restrictive than the one it replaced, it still restricts the ability of students, faculty, and staff from certain countries to enter the United States to learn, work, and visit family and friends.
- The new executive order takes effect on March 16, 2017.
- Individuals with lawful permanent residence in the United States (“green card” holders) are not affected.
- The executive order provides that a waiver might be appropriate in various circumstances, including:
- The individual has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside of the United States on the effective date of the order, and seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity
- The individual seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations
- The individual seeks to enter the United States to reside with a close family member who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa.
- The individual is an infant, young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case
The State Chancellor’s Office continues to monitor the situation and will continue to work with the UC, CSU, and the California Department of Justice. The State Chancellor has asked each college to inform his office if we become aware of any students, faculty, or staff that have been detained or otherwise prevented from entering the United States.
It should be noted that legal challenges to this new executive order have already been filed, so this is an ongoing area of legal debate. Our College and the State Chancellor’s Office will continue to advise our students and staff regarding any changes.
As I stated, all of this is a bit complicated; however, I hope this information conveys to you our ongoing support for your ability to continue to study at our College and contribute to our community. If you experience any difficulty or need additional assistance regarding any of these matters, I strongly recommend that you contact our Dean of Students, Carla Martinez at (714) 895-8705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to help you; after all, we have welcomed you here and count you as an important part of our Golden West College family. You continue to make our College better, our classes more vibrant, and everyone’s education enriched by the diversity of ideas you bring with you.
Wes Bryan, President
Golden West College