In California, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed the second half of what is known as the California Dream Act. Now that the second half of the act has become law, any qualified undocumented immigrant in the state can apply for financial aid and state-financed scholarships at state colleges and universities. The first half of the act was signed in July, and at that time illegal immigrants were qualified for private student loans and private financing for colleges and universities.
The California Dream Act allows undocumented immigrant students who graduate from California high schools to pursue college education if they can prove that they are working towards legal immigration status. The laws ensure that students have financial aid to attend college and can pay resident tuition rates at state schools, which are far more affordable than the tuition rates charged to out-of-state students. The second half of the California Dream Act did raise some controversy, as it does require immigrant students to meet the same funding requirements as other students. The act also stipulates that undocumented immigrant students only qualify for public aid after legal state students have applied for aid.
Since undocumented children of undocumented immigrants have been such a concern in the US, there are many proposed laws and plans to make some of these undocumented immigrants legal immigrants in the US. The Federal Dream Act, for example, would allow children of undocumented immigrants to eventually become naturalized.
Advocates of the California Dream Act claim that the bill ensures that children are not punished for their parentsÎ“€™ mistakes and ensures that qualified students are allowed to pursue an education and careers that could allow them to contribute to the US economy. However, critics argue that the California Dream Act and other similar legislation encourages illegal immigration and reduces the resources available to legal residents of the state. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, and other critics believe that most Californians do not agree with the bill. Some critics also argue that the bill is unfair in light of the fact that legal residents have been budget cuts that affect access to financial aid. Critics have stated that they will seek to overturn the law.
According to the California Department of Finance, the new California Dream Act would affect only about 1% of Cal Grant funding. The new bill signed into law would potentially allow approximately 2500 additional students to qualify for financial aid. This would mean that about $14.5 million of the $1.4 billion in funding would be eligible to go to undocumented immigrant students.