Career Fair CBP – Joshua wang /The Highlander

Tania Gonzalez and Carlos Alarcon had just wrapped up their first day of their last quarter at UCR when they heard the news that Customs and Border Patrol would be attending an event hosted by the UCR Career Fair. They were not happy about it.

Tania and Alarcon are president and co-president, respectively, of Providing Opportunities, Dreams and Education in Riverside at UCR, a student organization that seeks to provide assistance to undocumented students. “We don’t feel comfortable with them there … They’re literally hiring the next generation of people who would be at the border separating families,” stated Tania.

On Tuesday, March 30, PODER released a statement demanding leadership at the Career Center uninvite CBP from their upcoming event Virtual Spring Job Fair: Career Night 2021. The letter stated that the university’s “actions in allowing this employer to recruit and have a platform within the Career Center, undermines the universities commitment to a welcoming environment to all students and reduces it to a violent act of performative allyship,” it read.

“I feel absolutely horrible about the pain, suffering, fear and trauma this has brought to our undocumented students and community,” stated Sean Gil, the director of UCR’s Career Center to The Highlander. The Career Center is currently pursuing several options to address student concerns and is working on a finalized course of action. While they are not at liberty to discuss their plans, they are working directly with Undocumented Student Programs at UCR to meet with students on Monday to address their concerns. “The Career Center will be reviewing our practices, policies, and procedures surrounding employer outreach for career fairs,” stated Gil.

Ana Coria, coordinator for Undocumented Student Porgrams, expressed in an interview with The Highlander that on behalf of USP, she acknowledges and understands the harm and pain students may experience from any engagement with CBP and will continue to support and center the needs of USP constituents. 

As part of their support, USP and the Career Center created an alternative event to the virtual career fair that will be held simultaneously, and she encourages students to attend that event instead. The event, Careers in Immigration Rights, will be held on Wednesday, April 7 from 5 to 6 p.m. and will highlight careers that uplift and protect the rights of immigrants.

ASUCR also released a statement Tuesday in support of USP and PODER stating, “We demand that UCR makes a commitment to actively refrain from supporting agencies that impose fear and violence against members and families of our undocumented community.” A petition demanding that the Career Center uninvite CBP from the virtual job fair has garnered over 2,050 signatures at the time of writing.

This is not the first time students have pushed back against their universities for hosting recruiting events with federal agencies like CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Most recently on March 15, ICE pulled out of a UC Berkeley career fair following student activism. “It just still shows that there’s still so much work to be done,” stated Alarcon. 

While many students were in support of the statements released by ASUCR and PODER along with the petition, users on social media were not. “I don’t agree with this, I’m undocumented but I would not like to limit anyone’s option for a career,” one stated. Another stated that they understand the sentiment of how it would make people feel, but it is still “a career option and truthfully a good one at that,” said another.

The final decision from the Career Center will be made on Monday, April 4. 

“There is support (for undocumented students) coming from students, the staff at Costco Hall, faculty, right, but when it comes to UCR administration, these past four years I’ve noticed that the UCR admins don’t do anything unless there is student pressure,” stated Alarcon.