Undocumented Students Describe Fears of Napolitano as New U.C. President

Ronquillo, who was born in the Philippines, also expressed frustration with Napolitano’s selection because he said it happened “quickly and secretly,” something several newspapers in California and U.C. professors have also complained about.

The soon-to-be former head of Homeland Security has admitted she comes to the U.C. system with little experience in the academic field. Her predecessor U.C. president, Mark Yudof, came after leading the university systems in Texas and Minnesota.

Napolitano’s mission as the president of the U.C. system will be to manage the university's fiscal and business operations, and she’ll spend a lot time lobbying for state and federal funds -- and perhaps for funding from private companies, as well.

Hong, the student who interrupted Napolitano’s vote, expressed some fears of where that money could come from.

“We’ve very afraid that a lot of the money will come from private prison systems or defense companies,” Hong said, speaking about institutions that keep many undocumented immigrants in detention. “There may be a lot of corporate interest providing funding to the U.C. system, and they’re going to want something in return; it could be research or other resources available to them, but there’s going to be a lot of politics.”

Last year, Napolitano testified before the Senate in support of the Dream Act and defended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. But students dismissed those actions and said Napolitano only backed those programs after President Obama announced his own support.

At Thursday’s hearing, reporters asked Napolitano how she would respond to the demonstrators who interrupted the meeting where regents were meeting to vote her in to office.

"I'd say to those students -- documented or undocumented -- that we welcome all students," Napolitano said. "We're in the business of education."

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