CFA-sponsored AB 21 advances in Assembly
Will help to ensure undocumented students access to higher ed

AB 21, one of four CFA-sponsored bills heard and advanced by committees in the California State Assembly this week, would direct public colleges and universities to enact a broad range of protections for undocumented students.

After Pres. Trump’s first executive order to ban some classes of immigrants, CFA was prompted to issue a statement, about the critical responsibility to protecting our DACA students and immigrants CSU students and employees in general. A conversation with Kalra led to him draft AB 21, basing it on CFA’s statement.

This bill would play a critical role in protecting our undocumented students. AB 21 requires the CSU and community colleges to ensure the privacy of student records, alert the campus community when ICE is present on campus, have a protocol in place to notify the presence of ICE on campus, arm campus staff with information to ensure that ICE agents follow the law, be ready to provide concrete assistance to undocumented students who may face legal challenges, ensure that DACA students would continue to receive the benefits of that status even if federal law should change.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee took testimony and voted to send AB 21: “Access to Higher Education for Every Student” to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra who authored the bill told the committee California needs our college and university students to get degrees: “At a time when all that California has worked for could be cast aside, it’s imperative we take all the steps we can to protect students.”

CFA President Jennifer Eagan described for the committee the apprehension students at the CSU East Bay campus where she teaches are feeling for themselves and their families.

The bill is “consistent with the values of higher education and with California’s values,” Eagan told the committee, and she said, “As faculty we are committed to our students’ success. We need your help. Faculty and students can’t do the work we need to do in this environment” of fear.

AB 21 garnered support of speakers from CTA, SEIU, the California Labor Federation, community college faculty, immigrant rights groups, social workers, CSU campus organizations, and CSU students.