Calif. Governor Signs Bill Allowing College Aid To Illegal Immigrants

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the "Dream Act."

The controversial measure, which passed the Democrat-controlled legislature on a party-line vote in September, represents a victory for immigrant-rights activists ahead of the 2012 presidential election. California is the nation's most populous state.

Only two other states, Texas and New Mexico, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for state financial aid for college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking," Brown said in a written statement issued by his office.

"The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us," he said.

Brown in July fulfilled a campaign promise by signing into law a companion bill to allow illegal immigrants to receive privately funded college scholarships. Together the two bills have been dubbed the "California Dream Act."

A federal Dream Act that would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who attend college or serve in the military failed in the U.S. Senate last year.

Opponents of the California Dream Act have argued that public funds should not be used to help illegal immigrants, especially as California faces deep budget woes that have prompted cuts in education and higher tuitions at the state's public colleges and universities.

"Citizens are having a hard enough time getting the classes they need now," Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Hesperia Republican, wrote in a September 9 letter to Brown urging him to veto the legislation.

"(California already offers) students in the country illegally in-state tuition; legally documented students from the next state over can only dream of such a benefit," Donnelly said.

California is one of about a dozen states that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, based on attendance and graduation from a state high school.

Under the new law, written by Senator Gil Cedillo, a Los Angeles Democrat, those same illegal immigrants would be eligible for aid from the University of California, California State university system and the state's 112 community colleges.

They could also apply for Cal Grants, which are cash awards based on academic performance.

For the 2007-2008 academic year, the University of California reports that less than three-tenths of one percent of the system's 220,000 students were immigrants who qualified for in-state tuition.

More than 68 percent of those 1,941 students were U.S. citizens or "documented" immigrants, according to the University of California.

At the state universities, the new law would affect 3,633 students, or less than one percent of the 440,000 students enrolled in the current school year.

Of the nearly 2.9 million community college enrollees, 34,057 would be affected.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by uh Location: enc on Oct 10, 2011 at 04:40 PM
    There are a number of reasons for and against this measure. One reason has to do with revenue- it's actually higher when immigration is loosened.
  • by ralphie Location: ahoskie on Oct 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM
    to anonymous at 10/1/ 1:38 pm:SO? Besides, the word is GRAMMAR. Anyway- there is no stipulation that those better educated (or not attacked for being American during education) shall be given immunity to prosecutions for crimes or some silly stuff you seem to want to imply. How nice that you speak English. Now, return to where you came from, and enter LEGALLY.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 10, 2011 at 10:38 AM
    i speak english fluently,was raised here n hav straight A's, i hav no papers. but i bet my grammer is a whole lot better than alot of americans here. i bet i know alot more about a country where "i dont belong" than most of you people that were born here
  • by Joseph Location: Northridge on Oct 10, 2011 at 08:10 AM
    This is ridiculous. I agree with most of the comments. How is it that someone like me who has worked their whole life since they were 15 cannot get any financial aid but some immigrant who doesnt speak english and/or is working as a gardner under the grid so it looks like he is poor as hell and gets great financial aid. Im so sick of the poor taking away from those hard working people. This is how sick and twisted people are born.
  • by kinston on Oct 10, 2011 at 07:41 AM
    SMH... only in America is crime rewarded. Go into Mexico or any other country illegaly and see what happens to you. it sure as heck wont be food stamps and an education. more like rape and abuse, cause there illegals HAVE NO RIGHTS! which is they way it should be here! not the rape and abuse but deportation, and if you're caught coming back a shiot between the eyes.
  • by Alexis Location: Sonoma on Oct 9, 2011 at 09:16 PM
    I can't believe this! This is a huge mistake. So not only is our government bailing out big business, our government is giving OUR tax dollars away, in the form of financial aid for ILLEGAL immigrants who have NEVER paid in?? What is going on? HOW IN THE WORLD WAS HE ABLE TO PASS THIS?!?!?! Oh, but dont mind us lower/middle class, hard working, student AMERICANS stuggling to survive and losing our homes. Thanks America. You officially suck.
  • by Ken Location: Washington, NC on Oct 9, 2011 at 04:09 PM
    I am all for people coming here to get a education and their citizenship through the proper channels. But if you are here illegally with no plans to get a citizenship, go back home. Its stupid things like this that prevent people who were born and raised here from getting a education they otherwise couldnt afford.
  • by Jim Location: eastern nc on Oct 9, 2011 at 03:30 PM
    As if American kids don't have enough competition getting into college. Now they have to compete with illegal aliens. Why don't we just have an open border allowing everyone to come over. Pretty soon someone will come up with the idea that it is discrimination to turn away anyone trying to come across the border illegally. Should'nt illegals be deported instead of rewarded. No one should get entitlements until they have been here legally for a minimum of 5 yrs. The "Free Rides" mentality of our politicians is fast destroying our country & way of life. This reminds me of law breakers who commit crimes to get a bed, tv, 3 meals, a chance to get an education, & all the comforts of home for Nothing. We are creating a nation of takers.
  • by Yoho Location: Greenville on Oct 9, 2011 at 12:50 PM
    I love North Carolina and I know we are not perfect just like all the other states in our country, but I think we should change our state motto to "......At least we are not California" That way, the next time we make a stupid move....that kind of covers us and takes away the heat.
  • by Bryant on Oct 9, 2011 at 12:48 PM
    Great idea...we are on the verge of going bankrupt nationwide and this scholar wants to give money to people who have illegally entered our country. I mean, we give them food stamps, why not a free education. Geez. And we wonder why this country is in the toilet?
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