Sunday, October 09, 2011


California's Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law a number of education bills, including the state's version of the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented immigrants the chance to attend college at in-state rates.

Brown's signature on the bill fulfilled a campaign promise to allow high-achieving students who want to become citizens the opportunity to attend college, regardless of their immigration status.

"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."

Beginning in 2013, illegal immigrants accepted by state universities may receive assistance from Cal-Grants, a public program that last year provided aid to more than 370,000 low-income students.

The new law also makes students who are not legally in the country eligible for institutional grants while attending the University of California and California State University systems. And it permits them to obtain fee waivers in the community college system.

Students must graduate from a California high school after attending school in the state for at least three years and must affirm that they are in the process of applying to legalize their immigration status. They also must show financial need and meet academic standards.

The bill was by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), who praised Brown for showing courage in signing it.

"After having invested 12 years in the high school education of these young men and women, who are here through no fault of their own," Cedillo said, "it's the smartest thing for us to do to permit these students to get scholarships and be treated like every other student."

California Republicans are furious, of course, vowing that "tens of thousands" of new undocumented immigrants will enter the country because of the law at great expense to taxpayers.  The reality is that only a few thousand students per year would qualify under the law, and oh yes, they would have to admit they are undocumented.  Texas Republican Rick Perry signed a similar measure into law in 2001 and stood by it as late as this July:

"To punish these young Texans for their parents' actions is not what America has always been about."

Perry said earlier this year.   Texas has not collapsed under the measure.  In California, Brown hasn't gotten much credit for being better than Ahnold on a number of issues, but between himself and state AG Kamala Harris refusing to let the banks off the hook for Foreclosuregate, California Democrats are leading the way forward for the nation in the country's most populous state.  Good for the both of them...and hey, give Rick Perry some credit for his state's version, too.  Especially now that he's running for President.  Be sure to remind your GOP friends.