Logo for: President's Alliance Higher Education & Immigration

The authors research the labor contract negotiations that occurred on September 12, 2013 by undocumented undergraduate students and graduate students who testified before the University of California (UC) to include UC Teaching Assistants, Readers, and Tutors as job opportunities for undocumented students. During this negotiation, (1) Students described how current university policies and systems prevented equitable participation–demanding that the UC Office of the President (UCOP) administrators permit universal access to graduate Teaching Assistantships. On that day and in subsequent negotiations, undocumented students explained the profound implications university policies had on their personal and professional livelihoods. The themes that emerged from the discourse indicate that administrators are still struggling to understand the basic needs of undocumented students when undocumented status necessitates immediate support from the university. Policies found to limit undocumented students’ ability to equitably access a postsecondary education should necessitate intervention and support without staunch debate and resistance. Rather, it is the responsibility of administrators to facilitate and support an emerging undocumented graduate student pipeline. Undocumented students already encounter extraordinary challenges in order to pursue a higher education, and facing marginalization within their educational spaces should not be another challenge.

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