California Dream Act passes state Senate

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, left, talks with Assembly member Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. The Senate approved the measure by a 22-11 vote.
Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, left, talks with Assembly member Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. The Senate approved the measure by a 22-11 vote. Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Undocumented college students in California are a step closer to being eligible for state-funded scholarships and financial aid. It’s called the Dream Act, but differs from a federal plan by the same name, which would create a path to citizenship for those who are brought to the country illegally as children. The first half of California’s Dream Act has already become law – it allows undocumented students to qualify for private financial aid. The second half of the package would qualify non-citizen students for State University Grants, UC grants, Board of Governors Fee Waivers, and institutional student aid.

Demonstrators for and against the Dream Act and Secure Communities on August 25, 2011

Critics are leery and say it's unfair to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to give aid to non-citizens. Speaking to KPCC's Patt Morrison last month, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-39) pointed to the difficult economic climate as one reason not to pass the bill and said the state should focus on giving funds to legal residents. "If you're an American citizen or you're in the process of becoming one, we want to reward you," he said. "We want to put you first. We certainly shouldn't be putting people first who've come here the wrong way, no matter how deserving they might be. We can feel for them, but we're not here in this statehouse here to pass laws on the basis of feelings." Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), who sponsored the bill, said he believes the bill would boost the economy rather than hurt it. "They’re the valedictorians, the student body presidents, they’re the ones who we look to the future for." The Dream Act is expected to pass the Assembly and then be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. KPCC's Lily Mihalik contributed to this report.
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