UCLA to Offer Financial Support to Illegal Immigrants Excluded From Federal Aid Package

May 11, 2020 Updated: May 11, 2020

The University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) is planning to use its own funds to provide financial aid for illegal immigrant students, who are excluded from receiving federal emergency grants.

The move comes after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last month clarified that illegal immigrants, including those brought to the United States as children, are not eligible for the $6 billion in emergency grants made available by Congress in the CARES Act to help college students cover expenses incurred due to the ongoing pandemic.

UCLA received about $36 million in federal money through the CARES Act, with half going to students in direct cash grants. The university’s website instructs students to file an online application by May 22 to verify that they are eligible for Federal Financial Aid and have expenses impacted by the pandemic. Each eligible student may receive at least $200 from the CARES program.

Valeria Garcia, program director for the Undocumented Student Program at UCLA, told student newspaper Daily Bruin last week that the university is also planning to offer $200 to illegal immigrant students using the university’s private and institutional grants.

“These funds will be critical in supporting some of the basic needs for undocumented students and their families,” Garcia said in an email. “It’s important to note that these funds do not equal the amount that is given to individuals through the CARES Act,” she added.

Meanwhile, the state supreme court of California last week rejected a conservative group’s lawsuit challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to distribute $75 million to some 150,000 unemployed illegal immigrants via non-profit organizations. Those payments are going to be funded by a combination of taxpayer money and private donations.

The lawsuit, filed by non-profit legal group Center for American Liberty, argued that Newsom’s allocation of state funds violated both state and federal laws that deny unemployment benefits to illegal immigrants. It also contended that the program violated the state Constitution’s ban on giving gifts to organizations that are not exclusively run by the state.

The petition was dismissed by California’s high court in a one-sentence order on May 6 without explanation.

“The Governor made clear in his comments that he is giving $75 million in lieu of unemployment benefits that state and federal law bar to aliens working here illegally,” said attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon, a Republican Party official. “It is also concerning that unnamed nonprofits, who have no accountability to the taxpayer, are going to receive and distribute taxpayer dollars.”