Screen shot from StopAB131.com's Facebook page
It looks like the just-enacted California Dream Act is here to stay, at least until the next attempt at a ballot initiative to repeal it. The "Stop AB 131" campaign, spearheaded by Republican state Assembly member Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, has announced that the effort failed to gather enough signatures in order to place a referendum on the November ballot.
According to the campaign's Facebook page, paid and volunteer signature-gatherers fell more than 57,000 signatures short of the 504,760 that were needed by yesterday's midnight deadline. The initiative would have mandated a repeal to a measure signed into law last year by Gov. Jerry Brown that provides financial aid for undocumented college students, making easier for them to pay tuition.
Here's part of a statement from Donnelly posted on Facebook:
Although we put in a herculean effort the count as of late last night was 447,514 signatures, which precludes us from submitting the signatures today to the registrar of voters at each of the 58 counties.
This is disappointing news, but it is no less of a warning to Governor Brown, and every Democrat legislator who voted to create a new entitlement program for illegals while the state still has a budget deficit over $9 billion, and cannot even meet it's obligation to legal California students.
Thank you for joining us in this historic effort as Californians of every age, race, religion, income and political party came together to fight to restore sanity to the Golden State. We may have failed in this first battle, but we will not give up in the war to save California from the reckless politicians who want to raise our taxes to put the college dreams of illegals ahead of our own children.
AB 131, signed into law by Brown in October, was the second of two bills he signed this year that make up what's known as the California Dream Act. It was also the most contentious: While the first bill, known as AB 130, only granted undocumented college students access to private scholarships and grants, AB 131 allows these students to obtain the same publicly-funded state financial aid available to U.S. citizen and legal residents, including Cal Grants. Both bills were sponsored by Gil Cedillo, an Assembly member from Los Angeles.
In reaction to Donnelly's announcement, the immigrant advocacy group Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles posted its own statement - an excerpt:
The California Dream Act is a fair, timely, and inexpensive bill that will support a limited number of financial scholarships to undocumented students who have been brought to the U.S. as children. Contrary to Mr. Donnelly’s belief, California’s large diverse population supports the merits of the legislation and looks forward to its implementation in 2013.
Unlike the similarly named federal Dream Act, the California measure does not propose granting legal status to undocumented students, something that falls only within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Critics have pointed out that without a path to legal status, students receiving tuition benefits still won't be able to fully utilize their degrees. Proponents say it at least gives these students an opportunity to prepare themselves for a day when they can adjust their status.
The failure of the referendum campaign is the second blow this week for Donnelly, who recently received a misdemeanor citation for carrying a loaded handgun into the Ontario airport. Donnelly said he'd been carrying a gun because he'd received death threats pertinent to his anti-AB 131 campaign, and that he'd forgotten to remove it from his briefcase before going to the airport. He has since admitted that he doesn't have a permit for a concealed weapon.