DREAM Act on to governor's office
Governor Jerry Brown will soon decide the fate of the second part of the highly contentious California DREAM Act bill AB 131, which has put the state in the national debate concerning immigration. The proposed bill would give undocumented students in California access to state scholarships and loans for college, which they are currently denied. The bill was introduced Jan. 11, by assemblyman Gil Cedillo, and is awaiting the governor's signature to become law.
Opponents of the bill maintain that spending should be focused on important items such as infrastructure and job creations, and that the DREAM Act's proposed funding should be a low priority. Supporters say that undocumented students need this access in order to pursue their goals of a college education.
"It's incumbent upon us to provide these education services, because if we don't, we're going to create a subclass in America," said assemblyman Cedillo, author of the bill and one of its prime supporters. "America is a democracy. [...] if we create a subclass, it is going to be a subclass of illiterates who are going to be a burden on social services and be prone to criminal activity. There's no benefit to us. We want people to be productive and constructive."
Supporters of the bill say that state funded scholarships and loans are a significant means for financing costly college fees, and thus blocking undocumented students from having access to such crucial funds reduces their prospects for college education.
Meanwhile opponents feel that offering state-funded scholarships to illicit individuals is an unwise allocations of already limited resources.
"Until California is able to get its fiscal house in order, the State should focus its limited resources on vital services and resist the temptation to obligate itself to additional expenditures resulting from implementation of the DREAM Act," said Michael J. Fell, Vice Chairman of Westside Republicans, in an e-mail sent to the Corsair.
Advocates insist that undocumented immigrants who have consistently shown exemplary behavior and are good students must not be the ones to suffer the consequences of the system; that they should be given the right to pursue their educational goals with the assistance of government grants as they have the constitutional right to education.
"It's shocking to hear people say that undocumented students don't have rights! In the area of education, undocumented students are equal to all other students. The rule of law actually protects undocumented students," said Cedillo. "They've paid into the system like everybody else!"
Santa Monica College is arguably the most cosmopolitan campus in the state; therefore, the DREAM Act is an important piece of legislation that holds the fate of a broad spectrum of its students.
"I think that community colleges were designed as open-access institutions. The more we can do to create access for all the students of California, the better off we are. To extend the DREAM Act expands our capacity to be an open-access institution," said political science professor, Eric Oifer.
The first portion of the DREAM Act AB 130, permitting undocumented students the ability to get privately funded financial aid, was already passed on July 20. Since the DREAM Act has gained more public attention, Governor Brown is further pressured to make a decision, which will be sure to leave one side disappointed.
This article was edited to coincide with the article that was published in the Corsair's Sept, 21 print issue.