Photo by CSU Stanislaus Photo/Flickr (Creative Commons)
A bill that would provide undocumented students in California with access to public financial aid for college is on its way to a Senate vote, but it isn't expected to have an easy ride.
AB 131 is part of a two-bill package referred to as the California Dream Act. Its companion bill AB 130, signed into law last month, will allow undocumented college students access to privately-funded scholarships and grants not available to them before. The more contentious AB 131 would let them access the same state-funded tuition aid programs available to U.S. citizens and legal residents.
The controversy that the latter bill is attracting is evident just from the conversation on this site under a post from yesterday, when the bill moved out of committee and toward the Senate floor, with a vote expected as early as next week. Here are a few excerpts from readers.
Stop short changing American students. They don't get help because they already speak English.
the help is there for american citizens if they are not receiving it it's because the ain't looking for it
ILLEGAL is the issue, despite your ridiculing rhetoric. ILLEGALS are not entitled to any more public assistance.
And Dream On Good, who also referred to the federal Dream Act, wrote as part of a longer message:
You have two options. Have your taxpayer dollars fund massive deportations or number two, legalize those undocumented immigrants who have no criminal backgrounds starting with DREAMers. Keep in mind option number two would require each individual to pay fines, back taxes if they haven't been paying taxes. Now I leave it to you to decide which one of those options will generate massive amounts of revenues which will go right back into our economy.
Unlike the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, neither of the two bills that make up the California Dream Act propose granting legal status to students. But the combination of AB 131's price tag (though a portion would come from an existing Cal Grants fund, implementing it could run between between $22 million and $42 million) and the state's current budget crisis, along with other factors, could impede its passage.
The Senate is expected to vote first on the bill, which would then go back to the Assembly for approval of recent amendments. If it is voted in by the state legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated he will likely sign it. A Brown spokeswoman said yesterday that the governor "continues to broadly support the principles behind the Dream Act and will closely consider any legislation that reaches his desk."