Brown signs first part of state DREAM Act into law

Evan Walbridge/File
Supporters of the DREAM Act, pictured here in a September 2010 protest promoting the act, are now beginning to see results with Gov. Jerry Brown signing part one of the act, AB 130, into law Monday.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed one part of the California DREAM Act — which will provide increased financial aid for undocumented students — into law Monday at a town hall hosted by the bill’s author.

AB 130 — which was authored by state Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles — was passed by the state Senate July 14 and is now officially law with the governor’s signature

The bill will allow the UC, California State University and California Community Colleges to provide financial aid to undocumented students from their financial aid reserves.

Under AB 540, undocumented students qualify for in-state tuition by attending for three years and graduating from a California high school, among other requirements, but are not eligible for financial aid.

The second part of the act, AB 131, is still pending in the Senate. AB 131 would allow undocumented students at California colleges and universities to be eligible for state financial aid such as Cal Grants.

The act differs from the federal DREAM Act in that it does not provide a path to citizenship.

Though former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed versions of the act last year, Brown has said he would approve the act should it come to his desk. UC President Mark Yudof and UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau have also expressed their support for the act.

“I am proud to have played a role in helping to advance this legislation,” Birgeneau said in a statement. “I am hopeful that we also will see the federal Dream Act become a reality, so that these sons and daughters of California will have a path to citizenship and an opportunity to contribute fully to the economic and social vitality of our great state and nation.”

Opponents of the second half of the act have said that providing state aid to undocumented students would be fiscally irresponsible when the state is facing a nearly $10 billion deficit. Additionally, current immigration laws, they argue, would prevent employers from hiring the students that would benefit from the act.

But supporters have argued there is still time for immigration reform and there are economic reasons to support the act — that it is crucial for students to be educated so they can contribute to the economy as tax-paying workers.

“The Dream Act is not only the right thing to do for the children of our state, but it is also the right thing to do for California’s economic prosperity,” said bill co-author and state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, in a statement. “We rightfully invest in all our kids with public K-12 education, and we should also invest in them with higher education … Regardless of the debate surrounding immigration, it is time to stop punishing kids for the decisions of their parents.”

 

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.