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UC Program To Be NAFTA Of Higher Education

Photo caption:

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Janet Napolitano is president of the University of California system. She served as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013

The North American Free Trade Agreement turns 20 this year. Key leaders and observers of the pioneering trade agreement met in La Jolla on Thursday to talk about the past and future of U.S.-Mexico relations.

The University of California system is launching an initiative to increase student exchanges and research ties with Mexican universities, UC president Janet Napolitano said Thursday.

The former head of U.S. Department of Homeland Security spoke at a symposium dedicated to U.S.-Mexico relations on the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Napolitano had a mixed record as the head of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013. It was a time of record-breaking deportations, mostly of Mexican citizens. But she also helped craft an administrative rule that offers relief from deportation for some Mexican children who grew up here, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Now, in her role as president of the UC system, Napolitano has pledged $5 million in financial aid and special counseling for undocumented students.

Napolitano said these measures — and immigration reform — are key to harnessing the potential of the North American workforce. The UC president said she hopes the U.S., Mexico and Canada will present themselves to the world as a unified region in the future.

“Where the manufacturing and supply chain is distributed among the three countries, and where there’s a full panoply of student exchange, research exchange, dialogue, collaboration,” Napolitano said.

At a meeting last month, the presidents of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada also pledged to increase student exchanges in higher education.

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