The DREAM Act is part of the American Dream
On October 8, Gov. Brown signed the California DREAM Act into law, opening up college aid to undocumented immigrant students across the state. AB 131 allows state funds to be used for financial aid to undocumented immigrant students, and is also the partner to the other half of the California DREAM Act, AB 130, which was signed into law in July 2011 and allows for private scholarships to be granted to undocumented immigrant students.
The laws will go into effect on January 1, 2013 and will grant the “American Dream” to many immigrant students in California.
Signing such laws is always a contentious political issue, and this new law comes into effect at the same time as tyrannical anti-immigrant laws are put into place in Alabama and the already established anti-immigrant laws in Arizona.
Many politicians see these laws as a huge blow to California.
In a letter to Gov. Brown, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly asked him to veto the legislation stating, “Citizens are having a hard enough time getting the classes they need now.”
This is a plight many SMC students are familiar with, and technically, once undocumented immigrant students can get financial aid, they will take up class seats.
Meanwhile, conservative broadcasters across the airwaves are decrying the states that dare to encourage illegal immigration and grant them rights to educate themselves.
What these politicians and pundits fail to realize is that immigrants are not trying to invade America, but rather follow the path to a better life.
These politicians hold up the “American Dream” on a pedestal, but then get angry when immigrants try to follow this ultimate goal that America is known for globally.
They are convinced that immigrants come to America only to rob the country’s benefits before returning to their home countries.
Simply put, this is not always the case.
The reality is that most undocumented immigrant students to be affected by the law will be students who were brought to America as young children and were raised to be American.
It is pointless to punish children for their parents’ actions, and rather than spend tons of taxpayer money on trying to get rid of them, it will be much more beneficial to the state in the long run to instead invest in their betterment.
These are students who will go on to work in America for American employers, and pay taxes like everyone else.
The downside is that while these students will be able to obtain a college degree, they won’t be able to work legally in America through this law, as citizenship can only be granted at the federal level.
Many pundits bemoan how the law will bankrupt the state and will deny American citizens and legal students places in college, claiming illegal immigrants will overrun the state education systems.
Yet, the numbers suggest otherwise.
Out of the 3.34 million students enrolled in community college and state universities, less than 38,000 are estimated to be undocumented immigrant students.
In state universities, the law would allow for a little over 3,600 students to be eligible for financial aid.
At community colleges, about 1.2 percent of students would be eligible.
Plus, not everyone will get aid, since the bulk of the state aid is granted based on academic performance.
This means that out of all the new students eligible for aid, only a limited portion will earn it.
America is a nation built on immigration.
With the exception of tribal Native Americans, everyone in the U.S. is either an immigrant or a descendent of one.
This rash wave of immigrant hatred is nothing new to the nation, as xenophobia has reared its ugly head many times in our history.
However, past waves of immigration have always had the same results with more of the damage coming from hatred against immigrants, rather than immigrants themselves.
While the results can be rocky at the start, in the long run immigration helps all Americans, citizens and immigrants alike.