Perhaps people in Arvin had a premonition about what was to come on Nov. 8.

Three weeks before the presidential election, the Arvin Union School District board of trustees adopted a resolution in support of undocumented students, telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to show up at the schoolhouse door in search of deporting anyone.

"Some kids told teachers about being afraid of coming to school and being deported," said Michelle McLean, district superintendent.

The board was proactive and listened to the community's concern. I guess that makes Arvin a "sanctuary" school district, like numerous cities with policies in place to serve and protect the public regardless of immigration status.

When the unthinkable happened and Donald Trump was elected president, disappointment gave way to anxiety and sadness for many immigrants and their supporters. After all, Trump made immigration his signature issue, at one point proclaiming that if elected he would deport all of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants. He has since retreated from that stance.

Upon hearing those initial words, many of his supporters applauded, whipped into a crazed frenzy much like the crowd at gladiator fights during Roman times who gave a thumbs down indicating it was time for the kill.

"I'm definitely a little worried about what my future holds," said Jose Lopez, a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant and psychology major at Cal State Bakersfield.

He was 11 years old when his parents brought him to the United States and he was raised in Arvin, attending local schools. He is among the millions of students who are temporarily protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action program implemented by President Barack Obama.

Trump said he would immediately end DACA once in office, leaving millions of students more than a little worried because Trump will soon have access to all of their personal information. Will he use it to deport them?

Further, California has the DREAM Act, a package of state laws allowing children who were brought into the U.S. under the age of 16 without proper visas/immigration documentation who have attended school on a regular basis and otherwise meet in-state tuition and GPA requirements to apply for student financial aid benefits.

But all this is now in jeopardy. The issue has spurred colleges and universities to address the issue.

As of last week, more than 200 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the country have signed a statement in support of undocumented students. The statement reads in part, "To our country's leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded."

CSUB President Horace Mitchell told students he will add his name to the list. The signatories offer to meet with U.S. leaders on the issue and urge business, civic, religious and nonprofit sector representatives to join them in supporting DACA and undocumented students. That's a good start.

Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian has taken it further. Addressing a group of students, faculty and staff at BC's satellite campus Delano Center last week, she spoke about undocumented immigrants.

"Students, let me make this very clear. Bakersfield College stands with you," Christian said to strong applause.

BC has 700 to 800 undocumented students supported by the DREAM Act and educating them should not be a political issue, the school president added.

She concluded on a positive note.

"We are all dreamers. Todos somos dreamers," Christian said.

The BC president has always been about inclusion rather than exclusion for all students, a trait all educators should have.

Longtime educator and Bakersfield City School District board member Lillian Tafoya took her concerns about undocumented students and their education directly to Trump's transition team. She was invited to advise Trump's team on educational issues.

"In light of what’s happened, it's terribly important right now collaborating and unifying so that we can assuage the fears some of our students are experiencing as a result of the tenor of the campaign,” Tafoya told The Californian before her trip.

I'm not holding my breath Trump will listen to Tafoya's wise guidance.

Undocumented college students aren't the only ones feeling uneasy about their future. Elementary students worry about their parents or other family members being deported while they are away at school.

(I highly recommend the book "In the Country We Love" by Diane Guerrero, which tells the true-life story of her parents being deported while she was at school.)

Though Trump has recently eased up on his deportation rhetoric, saying he'd initially focus on deporting criminals in the country illegally and securing the border, that is hardly comforting to an untold number of families.

CSUB graduate Lorena Lara admits she is anxious about what's to come, but is not idly standing by for things to happen.

"At the end of the day we should not just stay home with our arms crossed," said Lara. "We need to be prepared and be organized for whatever is to come."


Contributing columnist Jose Gaspar is a reporter for KBAK/KBFX Eyewitness News. Email him at His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

(2) comments


Reading this I get the impression that these school boards, presidents, chancellors and superintendents believe they are the founders, owners and operators of these schools rather than the tax paid hirelings of the public school system they really are. I wonder what would happen to the Highway Patrolman who decided that, law or no law, drivers utilizing the roads in his area of patrol don't need drivers' licenses?


Jose is full of Gaspar.....

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