How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Will Jerry Brown sign the California Dream Act's AB 131?

Photo courtesy of Dream Team Los Angeles

UCLA graduate and California Dream Act supporter Nancy Meza holds petitions in downtown Los Angeles, Wednesday, October 5, 2011

California Gov. Jerry Brown has just four days left to sign or veto a bill known as AB 131, part of what's called the California Dream Act, before a bill-signing deadline.

Brown has indicated his support in the past for the measure, which would allow undocumented students access to publicly-funded financial aid for college. But with little time left to go - and a history of similar bills being vetoed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - the students who would benefit from AB 131 and immigrant advocates are increasing the pressure.

In Los Angeles, student activists organized a small demonstration downtown this morning to deliver petitions to Brown's local office. Other AB 131 supporters have been circulating petitions online and urging calls to the governor.

No word yet from Brown's office today on the likelihood that he'll decide on the bill before Friday, but a spokesman for AB 131 sponsor Gil Cedillo, a Democratic state assembly member from Los Angeles, said the governor has until Sunday.

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California Dream Act clears the Senate - what's next?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A student activist's t-shirt, March 2011

The second of two bills making up the California Dream Act is one step closer to being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill known as AB 131, which would give undocumented college students access to state-funded financial aid, cleared the state Senate 22-11 today, UC Berkeley's Daily Californian reports.

It now goes back to the Assembly for approval of amendments made in the Senate. The bill will likely be signed if it reaches the governor's desk, as Brown has already indicated his support.

But AB 131 still faces challenges. 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. AB 131, on the other hand, would allow them to receive the same state-funded tuition aid programs available to U.S. citizens and legal residents, a costlier proposition that has drawn more controversy than the previous bill.

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More reaction to California Dream Act from KPCC listeners

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:

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Reaction to the California Dream Act

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.

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Will the second part of the California Dream Act become law?

Photo by un.sospiro/Flickr (Creative Commons)


One of two measures that make up what's referred to as the California Dream Act was released from suspense in a state Senate committee today, and is expected to go to the Senate floor next week for a vote. But unlike AB 130, a companion bill that was recently signed into law, the bill known as AB 131 faces slimmer odds of success.

Both measures aim to make it easier for undocumented college students to pay tuition. AB 130 allowed these students access to previously unavailable privately funded scholarships. AB 131 would grant them access to publicly funded financial aid, the same kind of financial aid now available to students who are U.S. citizens and legal residents. Although undocumented students can qualify for in-state tuition if they meet state residency requirements, they are still barred from public financial aid programs, such as Cal Grants.

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