Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
A student activist's t-shirt, March 2011
Last Friday I joined guest host David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times on KPCC's AirTalk to discuss the California Dream Act, a package of two bills that would make it easier for undocumented college students to pay tuition.
One bill, AB 130, grants these students access to privately funded scholarships and was recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. A second, more controversial and costlier measure known as AB 131 that would enable them to access state-funded tuition aid, like other students, is expected to reach the Senate floor for a vote this week. If approved by legislators, Brown is likely to sign it.
During the segment, David (filling in for Larry Mantle) and I listened to several callers' comments and answered their questions. But the comments and questions didn't end there. The segment generated dozens of comments posted to the show's website. Here are just a few of the thoughts shared by AirTalk listeners, unedited:
I simply don't get it. We're strapped for cash and current students have difficulty obtaining monies for school. I can empathize with the illegal students plight, but simply cannot afford this now. Governor Brown will lose my vote if he signs the bill.
Viet Nguyen wrote:
I'm very torn about this. I believe we need to continue America's great advantage: attracting intellectual talent from around the world. Talent is talent and the state and country should do what they can to keep it. However, I feel that we can do this legally with legal immigrants. There are those waiting to get into the country who are circumvented with a program like this.
I'm so sympathetic with kids who are not here legally due to no fault of their own, but I agree with the logic that says we cannot make provision in law for people whose very presence here reflects disregard for very important laws. If the "pro immigrant side" sounded more respectful of our need to control our borders, it would actually help their position. Would the pro immigrant side expel ANY unlawful immigrants?
Strongly support AB131. I'm not from a family of recent immigrants, but it's the vibrant contribution of immigrants that have driven the California tech economy. The people are here, if we deprive them from being the best they can be, we deprive California from being the economic power house it can be. Note that everyone pays California taxes, regardless of their legal status.
why is it so hard for them to get citizenship? If they are high achievers and are eligible due to scholastic merit, why can’t they become a citizen. I would rather see someone going through our school system who is a high achiever stay in our country instead of taking the knowledge they gained and leave the country.
And Sonya wrote:
As a Jew whose family immigrated generations ago I feel for the dream act kids who enrich our society by their presence and participation. I want them to have the opportunities I and my own chldren have had. If voters weren't so obsessed with tax cuts which mainly benefit the wealthy and big corporations we could rebuild our state and educate all our kids- Yes, these are our kids too!
The audio from the segment can be downloaded here.