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

Readers react to the California Dream Act

Students' t-shirts at the AB 130 signing ceremony at Los Angeles City College Monday, July 25, 2011
Students' t-shirts at the AB 130 signing ceremony at Los Angeles City College Monday, July 25, 2011
Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Readers have posted close to 30 comments since Monday on a piece related to the California Dream Act, half of which was signed into law that day by Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Angeles.

The bill that became law, known as AB 130, is the slimmer of two bills that would make it easier for undocumented college students to pay tuition. AB 130 gives these students access to privately funded university scholarships derived from non-state funds.

The more contentious AB 131, which remains hung up in a state Senate committee, would give them access to publicly funded financial aid, which only U.S. citizen and legal resident students are entitled to now.

Public funds or not, the idea of giving undocumented students an easier path through college clearly rattles some. California already allows undocumented college students who meet residency criteria to pay in-state tuition rates, unlike many other states.

Bobeast lamented:

"qualify for in-state tuition under California law"
So they qualify for "in-state" tuition, even if they had to sneak to get in-state? Have we lost our minds? By what theory, legal. moral,  or otherwise, should we afford the rights of citizenship to those who snuck into our country uninvited? I honestly think we've simply gone stupid as a society.

Several readers who back the tuition proposals argued that many of the young people who benefit came here at a very early age, brought by their parents with no say in the decision.

Getyourfactsstraight replied:

"uninvited" did you have a choice on where you were born or where you grew up? I think not. So technically you are uninvited here too.

Samantha echoed this:
most of these students had no choice coming here, their parents smuggled them illegally; and theyre just trying to live their life as best as they can. For some of us illegal immigrants, going back to mexico would pretty much be signing a death sentence especially where there are so many narcotics

Jennifer Luchsinger wrote:
I'm disgusted. While I am a firm advocate of education, if these students cannot obtain legal employment, then they will not be required to add to the tax base in our state, nor will they be required to pay taxes to the IRS. We pay taxes so that we can live in a safe society. I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for these students, or their families.

Some of the comments I won't reprint, as the exchanges became heated and personal at times. But they do point to the highly controversial nature of these proposals, especially AB 131. The bill's proponents in the state legislature are trying to move to the Senate floor by the end of August in a political climate that is complicated by the state's financial crisis.

An estimated 24,000 undocumented youths graduate each year from the state's high schools, according to the office of Gil Cedillo, the Democratic Assembly member who sponsored both bills. It's estimated that AB 131 would cost between $32 million and $35 million annually, although a portion of this money is already set aside each year for high school students who qualify in terms of income and GPA for Cal Grants college tuition grants, according to Cedillo's office.