California Governor Jerry Brown signed on Saturday the second half of a bill dubbed the DREAM Act, which will allow illegal immigrant college students to receive state-funded scholarships.
The bill, written by Los Angeles Democrat and State Senator Gil Cedillo, completes the California DREAM Act and follows one signed by Brown in July to fulfill a campaign promise to give illegal immigrants access to privately-funded college scholarships. A similar bill for federal aid was voted down in the U.S. Senate last year.
“Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking,” Brown said in a 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.”
California joins Texas and New Mexico as one of three states to qualify illegal immigrants for college financial aid. The DREAM Act passed a Democratic legislature along party lines in September.
The state is also one of about a dozen to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public schools, given the students’ attendance and graduation from a California public high school. The new law makes these students eligible for aid at the University of California schools, California State Universities and 112 community colleges.
Opponents of the bill have stated that California’s funds should be reserved for those who are legally in the state.
“Citizens are having a hard enough time getting the classes they need now,” wrote California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Hesperia Republican, in a Sept. 9 letter to Brown. “[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.”
For the University of California’s 2007-08 academic year, it reported less than 0.3 percent of students as immigrants, and more than 68 percent of these 1,941 students as citizens or documented immigrants.
The new law will affect less than one percent of students at state universities–about 3,633–and 34,057 of 2.9 million students enrolled at community colleges.