A California Senate panel today voted to release AB 131 from suspension and send it to a vote on the Senate floor. AB 131 is the second of a two-part bill package known as California’s version of the Dream Act. Sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), the bill would allow undocumented students to compete for $40 million in public financial aid packages like Cal Grants and community college fee waivers. Governor Brown signed the first part of the package, AB 130, into law last month, granting undocumented students access to $88 million in private financial aid. Access to public aid faces greater opposition not only in a climate of public budget cuts but also because those financial aid packages are usually much larger. Opponents argue a financially strapped California cannot afford new benefits for anyone, let alone illegal immigrants, while supporters of the bill say those students should be allowed to compete on the basis of their merit. Can California afford its own Dream Act and will this move comprehensive immigration reform closer to becoming a reality?
Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-45th District (Los Angeles); author of AB 130 and AB 131 “California Dream Act”
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-59th District (San Bernardino, San Dimas)
Leslie Berestein Rojas, KPCC’s Multi-American blogger