Assembly Bill 131, the second half of the so-called “DREAM Act,” is on its way to the Governor’s desk. Despite its name, it offers little more than a mirage to the students it promises to help and a nightmare to the citizens whose hard-earned dollars will be used to fund it.
As a graduate of UC Irvine who worked his way through to pay out-of-state tuition the first year until he became a legal resident, I understand both the cost and the value of an education.
California’s UC and CSU systems are currently facing the most drastic budget cuts that we have seen in a generation — more than $1 billion. At the same time, the state is hiking tuition rates on all students by 10 to 12 percent while students compete in lotteries to get enough classes to graduate.
As citizens continue to struggle through what may come to be known as the Second Great Depression, it is an insult to every California citizen who subsidizes the university system to pass this fiscal nightmare.
The state has told students that it does not have adequate funds to pay for enough classes so they can graduate in four years. Now, California is even actively recruiting out-of-state students to help fill the education budget gap. Still, the Legislature purports to have miraculously found $40 million to fund the dreams of these illegal students, on top of offering them in-state tuition rates.
It is absurd. Even the governor has expressed reservations about funding this subsidy in our current economic state.
This bill institutes an expansion of funding for one category of students while requiring others to pay more on their behalf. This is unfair, fiscally irresponsible and bound to encourage more illegal immigration, which already costs between $11 billion and $22 billion across the country annually. I believe we need more legal immigration. This bill, however, entices more people to come here in the most dangerous way possible.
By creating a new entitlement for those who are in the country illegally, we are engraving an invitation to those who have not yet come — what are you waiting for? Not only do we offer a K-12 education, a myriad of welfare programs and in-state tuition, but now we will tax the citizens of California to provide additional financial aid for your child’s college education. In the end, though, the dreamlike promises still fall short.
Students who are in the country illegally cannot legally get a job in California, regardless of the degree they obtain. So, arguments that this is an investment are, at best, misguided. Worse yet, I fear that this bill does nothing but prolong the inevitable realization that to fully participate in society, these students must go through the honorable process to become citizens. Only then can they truly pursue the American Dream. AB 131 is merely a cruel hoax on both the future ”dreamers” and the citizens who are forced to give up their child’s dream to fund this nightmare bill.
Tim Donnelly is a California State Assemblymember representing the 59th State Assembly District.