How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Will the California Dream Act become law? Readers' reactions

Photo by CSU Stanislaus Photo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A post earlier this week addressing whether or not California Gov. Jerry Brown will sign a bill making up part of what's known as the California Dream Act has generated a very long string of comments, an example of how divisive the debate over the bill has become.

The California Dream Act is composed of two measures, one already signed into law by Brown in July, the other awaiting his signature by Sunday's approval deadline. The first measure, known as AB 130, will grant undocumented college students access to privately funded scholarships and grants; the second, if it becomes law, would allow them to access the same publicly-funded financial aid that other students are able to obtain for tuition.

Part of the rub with the second bill, known as AB 131, is the money. With the state in a financial crisis, even some of those who didn't mind the first bill oppose this one. The measure could cost between $22 million and $42 million to implement, according to the office of state Assembly member Gil Cedillo, who sponsored both bills. However, roughly $13 million of that would come from money already set aside for low-income students whose grades qualify them for CalGrants.


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.


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.


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.


The 10th anniversary of the Dream Act

Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Dream Act supporters outside L.A. City Hall, June 2009

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the original Dream Act. The first Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced August 1, 2001 by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, with a bipartisan group of cosponsors.

The bill's timing could not have been worse. In a little more than a month, the political landscape surrounding immigration would change drastically, obliterating any chance of passage. But after years of reintroductions, amendments and changing sponsors, the proposal to grant conditional legal status to young undocumented people brought here as minors continues to make its way around Congress, making it a noteworthy anniversary.

Here is a summary of the bill, then known as S.1291, as it was introduced:

Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act or DREAM Act - - Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the provision prohibiting an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on State residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such State residence.

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to direct the Attorney General to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, certain (inadmissible or deportable) alien higher education students under the age of 21 with qualifying years of U.S. residency.