Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

First part of California Dream Act headed to governor's office

Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen/Flickr (Creative Commons)

One of two bills referred to as the California Dream Act was approved today by the state senate and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's office for approval. Known as AB 130, the measure would allow undocumented college students access to privately funded financial aid in the form of scholarships and other assistance as overseen by state colleges and universities.

The bill does not, however, provide them with the state-funded public financial aid that U.S. citizen and legal resident students are entitled to. A companion bill known as AB 131 that would allow undocumented students access to public financial aid remains in the Senate and has yet to move beyond the committee stage. Broader public financial aid programs such as Cal Grants remains off limits.

Here's a legislative summary of what was approved today:

Existing law requires that a person, other than a nonimmigrant alien, as defined, who has attended high school in California for 3 or more years, who has graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent thereof, who has registered at or attends an accredited institution of higher education in California not earlier than the fall semester or quarter of the 2001?02 academic year, and who, if he or she is an alien without lawful immigration status, has filed a prescribed affidavit, is exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California Community Colleges and the California State University.

This bill would enact the California Dream Act of 2011.

This bill would provide that, on and after January 1, 2012, a student attending the California State University, the California Community Colleges, or the University of California who is exempt from paying nonresident tuition under the provision described above would be eligible to receive a scholarship derived from nonstate funds received, for the purpose of scholarships, by the segment at which he or she is a student.

The Donahoe Higher Education Act sets forth, among other things, the missions and functions of California?s public and independent segments of higher education, and their respective institutions of higher education. Provisions of the act apply to the University of California only to the extent that the Regents of the University of California, by appropriate resolution, act to make a provision applicable.

This bill would find and declare that the amendments to the Donahoe Higher Education Act described above are state laws within the meaning of a specified federal provision.

Unlike the proposed federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, neither of the two California bills proposes granting legal status to undocumented students.

Democratic Assembly member Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles, the sponsor of both bills, has introduced legislation similar to that approved today for years, but it was regularly vetoed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Brown, a Democrat, is expected to sign it. According to a story on San Francisco's KQED website this afternoon, Brown made a campaign pledge to sign bills that would allow undocumented students to qualify for aid.