How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Second part of California Dream Act advances

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The second of two state bills referred to as the “California Dream Act” was approved 7 to 2 today in the Senate Education Committee, which approved a companion bill earlier this month. Known as AB 131, the bill would allow undocumented college students access to public financial aid.

AB 131 faces slimmer odds of becoming law than its companion bill, AB 130, both of which are sponsored by Gil Cedillo, a Democratic Assembly member from Los Angeles. Unlike AB 130, which allows undocumented students to use scholarship money not derived from public funds, AB 131 would allow these students access to the same kind of publicly-funded assistance available to other students, such as Cal Grants state grants and other aid.

The bill would amend existing law, which now bars undocumented college students from receiving public financial aid. An excerpt from the text of the bill:

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California Dream Act passes its first Senate test

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


Financial aid for undocumented college students paying tuition has inched a bit closer to becoming law in California, with part of the legislation dubbed the "California Dream Act" passing its first Senate test.

The bill, approved 7-3 today in the Senate Education Committee, would allow for undocumented students who meet the residency criteria for California in-state tuition to obtain scholarships that are not derived from state funds. Similar legislation was recently approved in Illinois.

Today's hearing follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday that upheld an existing California law allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, rather than the costlier out-of-state fees they must pay in some other states.

The California Dream Act is comprised of two related bills, both sponsored by Democratic Assembly member Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles. Both recently cleared the Assembly and are moving through the Senate approval process. The one approved today, still referred to as AB 130, is the less contested of the two; the second bill, known as AB 131, would amend state law to allow undocumented students access to publicly-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants state grants and other financial assistance.

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The California Dream Act, part two: What it entails

Photo by sea turtle/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Earlier this month, the California state Assembly approved one of two bills referred to as the California Dream Act. While neither proposes legal status for undocumented students, as does the similarly named federal proposal, both aim to make it easier for them to pay for college.

The bill that recently cleared the Assembly was AB 130, which would allow for undocumented students who already meet the residency criteria for California in-state tuition to obtain scholarships that are not derived from state funds.

Today, the more contentious of the two bills, known as AB 131, passed 12 to 5 through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A full Assembly vote is expected next week.

AB 131 faces slimmer odds of passage than its companion bill, which like this one is sponsored by Gil Cedillo, a Democratic Assembly member from Los Angeles. The reason: Unlike AB 130, it would allow undocumented students access to publicly-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants state grants and other financial assistance.

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'Coming out' undocumented: A Dream Act strategy becomes a rite of passage

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


Last week in Orange County, a line of about two dozen young people snaked around the side of a meeting hall. Mostly college students, they awaited their turn at the podium in the front of the room. Some looked confident, others a little shaky. A girl with long brown hair stepped up to the microphone. "Hello, my name is Estefania," she began, "and I'm undocumented and unafraid."

What started as a small number of students going public with their immigration status grew into a movement in its own right last year, when passage of the federal Dream Act seemed like a possibility. It was a political strategy, the idea behind it to put a face to those whose lives would be affected by the legislation, which would have granted conditional legal status to qualifying young people brought to this country before age 16 if they went to college or joined the military.

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