Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act this past Monday, giving undocumented college students access to privately funded financial aid. Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, the author of the bill, is already seeking to expand the bill to give these students access to state-funded tuition aid, the LA Times reports.
The passage of this bill has been a priority for the large group of Latino/a voters who elected Brown into office last fall, especially as the agenda failed to gain momentum at the federal level. The Dream Act, however, was also backed by a sizable number of Korean American students, including Jaime Kim, 20, of Southern California. Kim emphasized that the new law does not apply only to Hispanic students in an interview with Southern California Public Radio:
“People think that the Dream Act only covers Hispanics, but it’s really not,” Kim said. “It’s people from all over the world who come to this country because they want to have the opportunities to better themselves.”
Despite the signing of the Dream Act, its opponents continued to make their case against the new legislation, protesting that the law would take away from students who are U.S. citizens. Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform told the LA Times:
“Obviously it falls into a different realm when the money is coming out of private pockets than it does when it’s coming out of taxpayers’ pockets [...] but nevertheless, foundations and other institutions that get tax exemptions should not be promoting policies that encourage people to remain illegally in the United States.”
Brown, as expected, emphasized that the purpose of the new legislation was to make public education available to all, but shied away from addressing the “thorny politics of illegal immigration” during the signing.
[Photo: Christina House/Los Angeles Times]