State Assembly passes one of two DREAM Act bills

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The California State Assembly voted Thursday morning to pass one of two bills that make up the California DREAM Act, which would provide university-funded grants to undocumented students.

The 51-21 vote passed AB 130 - authored by state Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles - which would allow the UC, CSU and Community College systems to provide financial aid to undocumented students from their financial aid reserves and will have no direct fiscal impact on the state. The bill will now move to the Senate.

Assembly Bill 131, which would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid such as Cal Grants, makes up the second half of the act and was placed under suspension by the assembly's Committee on Appropriations April 13. It is expected to be voted on again later this month.

Though former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed versions of the act last year, Gov. Jerry Brown has said on several occasions that should the act come to his desk, he would choose to approve it.

Cedillo read a letter from University of California President Mark Yudof at the meeting, which stated his support of the bill.

"The outstanding accomplishments of these leaders of tomorrow should not be disregarded, nor their future jeopardized, simply because of their legal status," the letter states.

Though the bill has garnered a majority approval, Assemblymembers Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, and Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, spoke out in opposition of the legislation prior to the vote, stating that while the intent of the bill is admirable, current immigration laws would prevent employers from hiring the undocumented students that would benefit from the bill's passage.

"I too share the compassion and the understanding of what these kids bring to our economy, to our future," Berryhill said at the meeting. "I agree with literally everything that's been said on this floor, but I don't feel that until there is truly federal immigration policy ... or we take the penalties off employers for hiring ... I just regretfully can't support this today."

But supporters of the bill argued that there is still time for reform in immigration laws. Assemblymember Marty Block, D-San Diego, said at the meeting that he believes it is very likely that there will be immigration reform within the next decade.

"I think it's been very clear in this discussion that it is the law - that these young students do have rights and that they do have a right to education in this state at this time," Cedillo said at the meeting. "While it may be illegal to hire them, it is not illegal to educate them.


Allie Bidwell is the news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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