SAN FRANCISCO — In response to the appointment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to president of the University of California system, Angela Chan, senior staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, released the following statement on July 18:

Janet Napolitano

“DHS Secretary Napolitano is a terrible fit for the University of California system.  Under her direction, ICE’s controversial and out-of-control ‘Secure’ Communities deportation program is responsible for the deportation of almost 100,000 Californians as of May 31. These deportations are more than any other state, and disproportionately high compared to our estimated undocumented population. 

“S-Comm has drained our state’s resources, undercut our community policing efforts, and destroyed Californian families. The TRUST Act (AB 4), a pending bill in California that would set reasonable limits on the S-Comm program to reduce its harmful impact, is needed now more than ever. By contrast, Secretary Napolitano’s appointment to the UC president is not.”

Charles Sanchez, a core leader of Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE) and a UCLA student, also expressed serious concerns:

“The appointment of Secretary Napolitano to fill the role of president of the University of California system is not only unconventional, but also disturbing. The very same person who oversaw a record number of deportations of our families, friends, and neighbors will be in charge of the public universities that enroll the most undocumented students; this is simply not right. The UC system will not benefit from an individual with her kind of experience; instead we need someone that is an accomplished and dedicated educator. California must do better than this.”

Amid protests from dozens of demonstrators during the UC Board of Regents’ meeting on July 18 at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, the regents confirmed Napolitano’s appointment. The lone dissenter was Regent Cinthia Flores, who represents UC students.

When asked by reporters for her response to the protesters, Napolitano said, “I’d say to those students — documented or undocumented — that we welcome all students. We’re in the business of education.”

Previously a two-term governor of Arizona, Napolitano is the 20th president of the University of California and the first woman to serve in that capacity.

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