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Napolitano Pledges Monetary Assistance to Undocumented Students

In response to the growing number of undocumented college students in her state, University of California President Janet Napolitano recently announced that she will spend $5 million to help provide financial assistance and counseling services to assist the students. .

“Let me be clear: UC welcomes all students who qualify academically, whether they are documented or undocumented,” says Napolitano, the former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary. “Consider this a down payment—one more piece of evidence of our commitment to all Californians.”

When Napolitano assumed the presidency of the 10-campus university system a month ago, some proponents of immigrant rights assumed that she would take a hard line stance on undocumented students.

But her public actions have been in line with other big university systems like City College of New York, which is viewed by many as a model for how to attract and provide support services to its undocumented students.

According to Napolitano, the money that will be earmarked for the immigrant initiative will be used to provide financial aid and to hire advisers at each of the UC campuses to provide students with guidance on an array of matters ranging from how to pursue legal U.S. residency to applying for graduate school.

“They do merit special attention,” says the former Arizona governor. “Oftentimes, they are from families who are very poor and first-generation, so [they] have no one out there to talk to them about student life.”

The UC system currently has about 239,000 students and enrolls about 900 students brought to the country illegally as children. The California state legislature recently passed a law to allow students who are not legal residents—and thus prohibited from most types of federal financial aid—to apply for state grants and scholarships.

Jamal Watson can be reached at [email protected]

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