University of California President Janet Napolitano and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday urged young immigrant students to renew their applications for an Obama-era program that protects them from deportation amid reports that immigration officials in Northern California could conduct a sweep of undocumented people in the coming weeks.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, immigration officials could arrest more that 1,500 undocumented people in the Bay Area and across Northern California. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not offer a comment to the newspaper regarding the reported operation.
If the operation occurs, it would mark the first wide-ranging sweep since California gained "sanctuary state" status back in October.
Becerra, while pushing DACA recipients to renew their applications during a press conference in Sacramento, addressed immigration enforcement and said his role is to "work with federal partners to "go after drug dealers, human traffickers, potential terrorists" on a daily basis.
"But Donald Trump should not ask us to be a deportation force for his immigration enforcement activities," Becerra said. "We're not in the business of deportation. We're in the business of public safety. We respect the federal government's right to handle immigration enforcement, but they should respect our right to determine how we go about providing the general welfare and the public safety for the people of California."
The state's sanctuary status came after Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 54 into law, allowing undocumented immigrants to cooperate with law enforcement without fear of being deported.
As for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, renewals, requests are resuming after a preliminary injunction was granted following lawsuits filed by the University of California and the Office of the Attorney General for the state of California.
DACA has protected about 800,000 people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas. The program includes hundreds of thousands of college-age students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.