Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, introduced a bill on Tuesday that would help support children of deported parents to attend California higher-education institutions.
The bill, SB 141, would allow for students who are U.S. citizens and California residents forced to live abroad — due to a parent’s deportation — the opportunity to qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid. The bill would apply to the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges.
“When undocumented parents are deported, their U.S born children are often forced to move abroad, losing their state residency, and with it, access to California institutions of higher education,” Correa said in a press release. “Today, these children, American citizens, are growing up outside the U.S., yet their desire to return to their birth home continues.”
To qualify, students must have a parent who has been deported, be living abroad due to deportation, be a U.S. citizen and must have been a California resident prior to moving abroad.
For Ronald Cruz, attorney and organizer of activist group BAMN, the bill signifies progress in the immigration reformation movement.
“This bill is a marker of the strength of the new immigrants’ rights movement,” Cruz said. “We can win this and much, much more if we take to the streets again.”
ASUC Senator Nolan Pack also expressed support for the legislation but had concerns that it may not go far enough. For one, Pack felt that the initial deportation would result in large disadvantages for those affected and that the bill did not do enough to address that issue.
However, to others the bill appears unfair and unequal.
“There exists a variety of reasons that could force any family to relocate out of California, whether that be immigration status, economic hardship or even an unexpected death in the family,” said Shawn Lewis, executive director of the Berkeley College Republicans. “Any law that singles out one class of people and grants certain accommodations to them without considering other reasons a California citizen may be living out of California for a period of time, to me, seems inconsistent and potentially at odds with the Equal Protection Clause in our U.S. Constitution.”
According to Correa’s press secretary Damon Conklin, the senator expects to face some difficulties initially with passing the bill through the Senate Education Committee. However, he is optimistic it will ultimately pass due to the broad consensus of its supporters.
“It is important for American-citizen children who are growing up outside the U.S. and wish to expand their education to be able to do so without the cost barriers that would normally preclude them,” Conklin said.
Andrea Guzman covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected].