The historic measure, long championed by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo will open the door to college funding for undocumented students.
By David Fonseca - Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch | http://bit.ly/pgjUzS
October 8, 2011 - Undocumented students in California will soon be eligible for State assistnace to attend college.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed the California DREAM Act into law, granting undocumented students admitted to state universities access to Cal-Grant assistance.
According to the Times, Gov. Brown cited the benefits of providing more opportunites to high achieving students as motivation for signing the bill.
“Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking,'' Brown said in a statement. "The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us."
Luis Antezana, a HHPNC (Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council) member and student at Cal-State Los Angeles, is among the Highland Park students that could benefit from the passage of the DREAM Act once it goes into effect in 2013
An undocumented student from Bolivia, his grades and sterling list of extra-curricular activities made him eligible for a college in the University of California system, but his citizenship status made it almost impossible for him to afford it.
He told Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch that he did not become aware of his citizenship status until his senior year at Franklin High School.
Prior to the bill's passage, Antezana said The DREAM Act would "give hope and a new incentive to battered and beaten undocumented students who have lost the will to continue with their education and become the doctors, lawyers, legislators and politicians they dreamed about when they were kids."
Antezana said the following about the passage of the bill:
"If I wasn't too tired from my four hour Saturday class I would be jumping up and down right now. It has been a bitter-sweet road. But I feel happy, rejuvenated, empowered. I am very grateful that economically disadvantaged students who, unfortunately, weren't born here but have worked hard and earned top grades in high school will now get a bit of financial support from the State government. I am just so happy and hopeful."
Assemblyman Gilberto Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes parts of Highland Park and Mount Washington, first introduced the California DREAM Act in 2006, according to the californiadreamact.org. The legislation was split into two bills in January. The first part, Assembly Bill 130, was approved and signed by the governor earlier this year. That part allows students who meet the in-state tuition requirements to apply for and receive scholarships from non-state funds.
The legislation has been panned by detractors, though, who argue that it would take away money from U.S.A.-born students to help pay for the education of undocumented students.
In a statement accompanying his signing of the bill, Brown referenced a California Dept. of Finance reported which stated that DREAM Act grants would account for 1-percent of the $1.3 billion Cal-Grant entitlement program.
The bill also prohibits undocumented students from applying for assistance from the much smaller $127 million Cal-Grants competitive fund before all legal citizens are served.