This Saturday, another chapter was penned in the history of rights for America’s undocumented students.
With Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of the second part of the California DREAM Act, undocumented students will be able to receive state aid starting in 2013, giving hope to others around the country. Brown’s signature on the bill by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, forever writes into history the precedent that those who grow up within the boundaries of the state should be able to reap the benefits of its higher education system and contribute to society. The law asserts that it is not fair for the state to nurture these undocumented students, many of whom had no choice in their relocation to this country, during their K-12 experiences and then cut them off right at the threshold of college.
By providing state aid to all those who need and deserve it — such aid is awarded on academic as well as financial eligibility — the state is remaining consistent in providing equality and access to education. Without such support, where would these students turn? This act is the answer.
Still, realizing further rights for undocumented students is far from over. The next fight must be at the national level because the state does not have the power to open the next door through which such students need to pass to find a more normal life: obtaining citizenship. Without an easier path toward citizenship, undocumented students face a whirlwind of further challenges postgraduation.
This will not be an easily won conflict. The controversy surrounding immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona, for example, reveals deeply-rooted anti-immigration mentalities that will make further change difficult across the country.
We applaud Brown and the state Legislature for leading the national fight. We hope that this decision will rally the rest of the country and that one day, undocumented students all over America will receive the justice they deserve.