Many immigrants living in California want to become U.S. citizens. However, the path to citizenship can be long and treacherous. Fortunately California has laws to help those who are not yet citizens succeed. Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act into law. The act allows illegal immigrants to be considered for state financial aid toward community colleges and universities across the state. However, the California Dream Act was not backed by all.
After the act was passed, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly launched an effort to repeal it. Donnelly argued that because of the state’s large budget deficit, funding for higher education should first be going to legal citizens. However, his efforts to petition to ask California voters for a repeal were not enough.
According to a recent news story from the LA Times, the petition needed at least 500,000 valid signatures from Californians. Donnelly’s initiative fell short, collecting less than 448,000. He said he was disappointed by the outcome, but felt the strong support served as a warning to state democrats.
Meanwhile, immigrants in the U.S. who do yet have the proper paperwork to live in the U.S. can continue to be eligible for financial aid from the state. Immigrants who are not legally living in the U.S. can also qualify for fee wavers from community colleges as well as institutional grants in the University of California and California State University systems.
While Assemblyman Donnelly argued that funds should not go to students who are not legally living in the U.S., last October, Governor Browns office issued a statement saying that the bill, known as AB131, would only affect 1 percent of all funds allocated to Cal Grants.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Effort to repeal California Dream Act comes up short,” Nicholas Riccardi, Jan. 6, 2012
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Gov. Jerry Brown signs Dream Act for state’s illegal immigrants,” Patrick McGreevy and Anthony York, Oct. 8, 2011