In her current role as the president of the University of California, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is devoting millions to helping students who live in the U.S. illegally, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Napolitano said Wednesday the $5 million she earmarked to provide special counseling and financial aid for students living in the U.S. illegally is aimed at disarming critics who worried she would be hostile to the small but vocal student population, the AP added. Another $10 million will be earmarked for graduate students and research fellows, for a total of $15 million.
“Let me be clear. UC welcomes all students who qualify academically, whether they are documented or undocumented,” she said at an appearance in San Francisco that was organized by the Commonwealth Club. “Consider this a down payment — one more piece of evidence of our commitment to all Californians.”
The money would be earmarked for financial aid and to hire advisers who could help students in matters ranging from how to pursue legal U.S. residency to applying for graduate school, she added.
“They do merit special attention,” she told the crowd of several hundred people. “Oftentimes they are from families who are very poor and first-generation, so have no one out there to talk to them about student life.”
University officials estimate that about 900 students in the college system were brought into the country illegally as children.
A bill signed this year by California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, lets illegal immigrants apply for grants and scholarships from the state, since they are ineligible for most federal aid.
UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the funds pledged by Napolitano would not come from tuition or the operating budget, but would come from reserves in accounts the system has used to help finance faculty mortgages and campus efficiency projects, the AP reported.
Napolitano said she has more "big ideas" and will present more of them when she meets with the university’s governing board next month.
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