The Controversy Behind Janet Napolitano's Appointment as U.C. President
How would you feel if you were a UCLA student and the incoming U.C. President deported your mom, dad, brother, and sister? That’s the simple reason why former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s appointment as the newest U.C. President has raised so much controversy among many of us in the UCLA community. Between 2008 and 2011, the United States deported an estimated 1,550,000 individuals, the vast majority of who were just hard-working immigrants trying to support their families and who were contributing millions of dollars a year to the U.S. economy. Quite notably, Janet Napolitano presided over most of these deportations as United States Secretary of Homeland Security.
Let me share a story which illustrates the point. I am close friends with a student at UCLA who has had four family members deported in recent years. He came in to UCLA as a freshman from the San Diego area, and had even been accepted to Columbia University. His uncle was deported after reporting that burglars had broken into his house in the middle of the night. His young sister was thrown over the dangerous U.S.-Mexico border by ICE officials in the middle of the night with little more than the clothes on her back. His father, the main breadwinner of the family, was also deported; and so was his mother. Can you imagine the personal devastation that my friend has experienced?
Now try to put yourself in his shoes. Can you imagine how he felt after hearing the announcement that Secretary Janet Napolitano—the person who presided over the deportation of many of his family members-- has now been appointed overseer of the entire University of California system, including UCLA?
Now multiply my friend’s experience by tens of thousands of times in the lives of thousands of students at UCLA and the U.C. system. Can you see why many of us, especially in the Latino and Asian communities, are upset by the appointment of Secretary Janet Napolitano as the 20th president of University of California?
Robert Chao Romero