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AB 540: Undocumented Students in the UC System. Alejandra Flores Janel Munguia Carina Salazar. Who Are Undocumented Students?.

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AB 540: Undocumented Students in the UC System

Alejandra Flores

Janel Munguia

Carina Salazar

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Who Are Undocumented Students?

A student who is not a US citizen or legal permanent resident and who does not currently posses a green card, visa, or other legal documentation is considered an undocumented student.

Each year, over 60,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States.

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  • Many of them came to this country with their parents as small children and have been raised here just like their U.S. citizen classmates.

  • They view themselves as Americans, because they know no other country.

  • Some may not even realize that they are here in violation of our immigration laws.

  • They grow up to become honest and hardworking adults who strive for academic as well as professional excellence.

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Historical Background they have a work permit.

  • In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state may not deny school-age undocumented children the right to a free public K-12 education. To do so would violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution which applies to any "person," not just to U.S. citizens

    (Plyler v. Doe).

  • When it comes to postsecondary education, however, no such protections apply to undocumented students. Rather, conflicting federal and state laws and local practices result in quite diverse and inequitable treatment for those young people wanting to pursue postsecondary education.

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  • The 1985 court order they have a work permit.Leticia A. v. Board of Regents affirmed above policy by stating that “Education code precluding undocumented students from establishing residence” was unconstitutional and that undocumented students could establish residency for tuition purposes for both UC and CSU systems of higher education.

  • In 1990, Bradford a UCLA Registrar’s Office employee sued the Univ. of California, stating that he had been forced to quit his job for refusing to follow the Leticia A. court order.

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  • Regents of California v. Superior Court (Bradford) they have a work permit. required newly enrolled undocumented students be classified as non-residents for tuition purposes, implemented by UC in fall, 1991.

  • While the Community College and CSU systems were not named in the suit, they implemented similar practices.

  • Bradford injunction meant that for the 10 years from 1991 through 2001, undocumented students in the State of California were effectively barred from attending any community college, CSU or UC, even if academically eligible, due to economic constraints.

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What is AB 540? they have a work permit.

On October 12, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill AB 540 into law. AB 540, authored by the late Assembly Member Marco A. Firebaugh, authorized undocumented students who meet specified criteria to pay in-state tuition at California public colleges and universities.

Assemblyman Firebaugh received his BA in Political Science from UC Berkley and Law Degree from UCLA.

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Who Qualifies for AB 540? they have a work permit.


  • The student must have attended a California High School for 3 or more years,

  • The student has or will graduate from a California High School or its equivalent, and

  • The student has filed or will file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that he or she will apply for legal residency as soon as he or she is eligible.

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Implications and Shortcomings campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • Training is necessary to inform educators and the public,

  • Interpretation in the implementation process from one system and/or school to another may vary,

  • Proof of required documentation varies,

  • AB 540 students are ineligible from taking Graduate tests or allow them to apply for state credentials, i.e. teaching, nursing, etc.

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FERPA & campus to campus. Please contact your registrarUndocumented Students

Undocumented students are protected under the federal law regarding student records. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that educational student records be kept confidential. Information that may be in school records regarding a student's undocumented status must be kept confidential. Disclosure should be made only after parental consent or based upon express authority provided under FERPA.

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FACTS ABOUT AB 540 campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • AB540 does not apply to private colleges and universities.

  • AB540 does not grant legal residency to qualifying students.

  • AB540 does not grant state or federal financial aid eligibility.

  • AB540 only provides an exemption to the requirements to pay nonresident tuition.

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AB 540 Provisions campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • Allows undocumented students to pay $26 per unit (in-state) fees at California community colleges versus $175 per unit (out-of-state) fees,

  • $2,575 (in-state) fees at CSU campuses versus $12,420 (out-of-state) fees, and

  • $6,028 (in-state) fees at University of California campuses versus $22,504 (out-of-state) fees.

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How can counselors identify an campus to campus. Please contact your registrarAB 540 student?

There is no notation in a student’s record to indicate that they are an AB 540 student.

The student may or may not be willing to disclose this information with their counselor.

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How can counselors assist AB 540 students? campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

UCLA Student Panel:

  • Mario Escobar

  • Fabiola Inzunza

  • Ivan Pandoy

  • Tam Tran

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Upcoming Federal Legislation campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • Dream Act (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) was introduced on February 8, 2006 – On February 16 it was sent to the Higher Education Committee.

  • Eliminate a federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition without regard to immigration status; and

  • Permit some immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for citizenship if they meet certain conditions.

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Upcoming State Legislation campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • SB 160 The CA Dream Act

    (Authored by State Senator Gilbert A. Cedillo)

    This bill would require the Board of Governors for the California Community College, Board of Trustees for the California State University, and strongly recommend to the Board of Regents of the University of California system to allow students who meet the in-state tuition (California Education Code § 68130.5) requirements to compete for the current financial aid available that is administered by the institutions. Students who meet these requirements would also be eligible to apply for and receive a Board of Governor Fee Waiver.

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Information Websites campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/DREAM_Basic_Info_0205.pdf

  • http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/Econ_Bens_DREAM&Stdnt_Adjst_0205.pdf

  • http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/DREAM_Durbin_stmnt_072204.pdf

  • http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/DREAM%20Judiciary%20Sumry_040504.pdf

  • http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/TABLE_State_Leg_Imm_Higher-Ed.PDF

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Resources campus to campus. Please contact your registrar

  • National Immigration Law Center - Josh Bernstein www.nilc.org

  • Center for Community Change www.communitychange.org

  • MALDEF: Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund


  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights www.icirr.org

  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) www.chirla.org

  • Civil Rights www.civilrights.org

  • Southern Poverty Law Center www.tolerance.org

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Resource on Immigration Information campus to campus. Please contact your registrar