Undocumented Student Center at UC Davis Now in Full Swing

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DAVIS-

Claudia Rios has a secret.

It's not that she's a UC Davis junior, nor is it that she is the first in her family to go to college.

Her secret, is that she is an undocumented immigrant.

"I was born in Jalisco, Mexico," Rios told FOX40.

"I didn't really come out about my status until the end of high school," Rios said.

The 20-year-old is one of hundreds of undocumented students at UC Davis who now have access to a special resource center, one of the first of its kind in California.

Thanks to AB-540, The Undocumented Student Center at UC Davis is now in full swing, providing legal aid, mental health advice, and academic advising to undocumented students on campus.

"I want to show students that they matter," said Director Andrea Gaytan. "That they can contribute to not only our campus but to our state."

Guytan estimates the costs to run the new center will be around $100,000 in its first year. She says the funding came from the UC Davis Office of the President.

"It's really amazing just to know there is a safe space for me to go," Rios said to FOX40 on Monday. "Where my status won't be something I have to hide."

But, Assemblyman Tim Donnelley is troubled by the new center:

"This action by the President of the UC--Janet Napolitano--to use taxpayer money to create a center that will serve and employ "illegals only" is discriminatory against legal citizens & immigrants" he said in a statement Monday. "If we have excess monies, they should be used to help struggling Americans first... [It is also] also a blatant violation of Federal law (under the Clinton Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity) Act."

Right now, the center is legal under California State Law. And, as long as it is, Rios says she will continue to use it as a resource.