Activist group urges Gov. Brown to pass DREAM Act

Carli Baker/Staff
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau at a protest where demonstrators urged California government to complete the passage of the second half of the DREAM Act.

A small group of demonstrators bearing signs and chanting slogans gathered in front of California Hall today, demanding that Gov. Jerry Brown sign AB 131, otherwise known as the second part of California DREAM Act.

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande briefly addressed the crowd of about 15, expressing support for the demonstrators and advocating that Brown approve the bill, should it reach his desk.

The group — which distributed fliers advertising a DeCal teaching students the tenets of activism and collected signatures for a petition to the governor’s office — was composed of students from Martin Luther King Middle School, UC Berkeley and demonstrators from the activist group By Any Means Necessary, also known as BAMN.

Despite Brown’s previous promises to sign AB 131 should it reach his desk, demonstrators said that they were not so sure of his commitment in light of the budget he passed.

“Gov. Brown completely turned against his own party on the budget issue,” said Ronald Cruz, a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Law and a member of BAMN. “We’re going to keep doing what got us this far and make sure that he keeps his promise.”

AB 130, signed into law by Brown on July 28, was the other piece of legislation that composes the DREAM Act. It allows undocumented students to receive limited financial aid from UC, CSU and community college reserves. The second part would allow those students to receive financial aid from state funds such as Cal Grants and other scholarships.

Cruz said that although Brown has already signed AB 130, activists are concerned by comments his office made to the Contra Costa Times about the financial difficulties involved in signing the bill.

Tania Kappner, co-founder of BAMN, said support for the bill is overwhelming at this point and that it is no longer the time for “spinelessness.”

“We’re calling on all California students to support us,” she said. “Gov. Brown needs to take a strong stance and sign the DREAM Act.”