By Daniel Weintraub
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants who graduate from California high schools to receive financial aid while in college.
The bill follows on legislation enacted in 2001 granting resident student status and fees to students who attended high school for three years in California, graduated with a high school diploma or the equivalent and have applied to immigration authorities for legal status.
Known as the “Dream Act,” Assembly Bill 130 is expected to affect about 4,000 students at the California State University and the University of California and about 35,000 students in the California Community Colleges.
The bill, which takes effect in 2012, allows undocumented students to receive aid only from non-state funds, including private gifts and tuition revenue set aside for scholarships.
Brown, in signing the bill, said “it’s crucial that we invest in every child who lives in this state.” He noted that half the children born in California are born into families poor enough to qualify for public assistance.
“Our future,” he said, “is uncertain if we neglect those children. But it is absolutely abundant if we invest in theier education, their child care, their future, their neighborhoods.”
Although the bill has been opposed by fiscal conservatives and opponents of illegal immigration, Brown described it as one building block toward a healthier economy.
“This is one piece of a very important mosaic, which is a California that works for everyone,” he said.