Students March for DREAM Act

Photo: Protesters take part in a march for the DREAM Act, which could provide more financial aid to undocumented immigrant college students.
Ronald Cruz/Courtesy
Protesters take part in a march for the DREAM Act, which could provide more financial aid to undocumented immigrant college students.

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Protesters from around California marched in Sacramento Friday to encourage Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign legislation that would allow undocumented immigrant college students to be eligible for financial aid.

Nearly 2,000 people gathered for the protest, including around 100 students from UC Berkeley and Berkeley High School, according to Ronald Cruz, a UC Berkeley law student and an organizer for By Any Means Necessary, a political organization that has taken special interest in the California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act.

The organization funded two charter buses to help shuttle student protesters to Sacramento.

"What we showed is that the movement is very strong and nothing but full freedom and equal treatment will stop this movement," Cruz said. "What's clear is that there's a lot of optimism that we really felt at the rally, that our mission can turn the corner at any time and definitely that if we don't win the DREAM Act this year, we will very soon."

Schwarzenegger's deadline to sign or veto the DREAM Act, is Sept. 30. The act would allow undocumented students to receive financial aid administered by California Community Colleges, California State Universities and the University of California.

While Schwarzenegger has not yet made a decision on the recent act, he vetoed an earlier version of the bill in 2006.

"He has over 700 bills to act on," said Francisco Castillo, a spokesperson for the governor. "Every other bill that has not been acted on by Sept. 30 will become law and he has not yet taken a position on this bill."

The bill, authored by Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, was passed by the legislature in September 2007.

While Castillo did not say why Schwarzenegger decided to veto the bill in 2006, Cedillo's District Director Arturo Chavez said the governor may not have wanted to commit government funding to undocumented students.

Chavez said that the newer rendition of the DREAM Act made provisions with the governor's objections in mind. If the bill passes, certain undocumented students will be eligible for private grants, but not state grants.

"It does not take away any tax money or other money from the state of California or the federal government because they do not qualify for federal funding," Chavez said.

Yvette Felarca, Northern California coordinator for BAMN and a teacher at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, came to the protest on Friday with some of her students in tow.

"We're marching ... to get Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the California DREAM Act to recognize the equality and dignity of undocumented students in California," Felarca said. "Whether we have papers or not, we are all Californians and we are going to stand up for the rights of Californians."


Contact Kat Murti at [email protected]

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