Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Second portion of California's DREAM Act moves forward

AB 131, the second portion of the “California Dream Act” passed the Senate Education Committee today on a vote of 7 to 2 it now goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

Maria Luna, undocumented student
SACRAMENTOOn June 22, the second portion of Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo’s (D-Los Angeles), “California Dream Act”, AB 131 passed on a vote of 7 to 2 in the Senate Education Committee. AB 131 now goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote expected by the end of June. AB 130, the other portion of the California Dream Act, is expected to be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee by the end of June.

The California DREAM Act, first introduced by Cedillo in 2006, was introduced in two bills in January of this year. The first bill AB 130 would allow students that meet the in-state tuition requirements to apply for and receive scholarships derived from non-state funds. AB 131 would allow students that meet the in-state tuition requirements to apply and receive financial aid at California public colleges and universities. The types of financial aid these students would be eligible for include: 1.) Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver 2.) Institutional Student Aid: Student aid program administered by the attending college or university (i.e. State University Grant, UC Grant) and 3.) Cal Grants.

Assemblymember Cedillo states, “The Senate Education Committee has taken an important step in voting in favor of this part of the California Dream Act today. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting the appeal of AB 540, the committee has demonstrated their commitment to help foster the development of future architects, doctors, teachers, scientists and scholars who are crucial to the success of the California economy. Increasing the earning potential of these students helps all of us by contributing to our tax base; thus improving services and resources.”

Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor, U.C. Berkeley testified in support of AB131 indicating that, “It is UC’s policy is to return about 30% of our revenues to students in the form of financial aid. These are our best and brightest students in the state; our state’s future. This includes undocumented students. AB 131 is a critical component to continue the economic vitality of our state. These students need and deserve our support at the same level of aid as other students.”

Maria Luna, an undocumented student related, “I was brought to the county when I was 3 days old. I attended UC Berkeley, but because I could not afford the tuition without financial aid, I had to transfer to Sacramento State, where I received a BA degree.” AB 131 will provide crucial support for students such as me.”

David Rattray, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce Development, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce stated, “The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has supported the Federal Dream Act last fall in Congress and we supported AB 540. We live and breathe this because we know it is right the thing to do. We see such incredible talent and it is unethical not to get behind this. We are pragmatic; homegrown talent should not be wasted. These students have done everything we’ve asked them to do. It is unconscionable to tell them that we did not mean it for you. We respectfully urge you to vote in favor of AB 131.”

Organizations in support of the bills include American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), California Catholic Conference, Community College League of California, California Communities United Institute, California Federation of Teachers, California Immigrant Policy Center, California State University (CSU), California Teachers Association (CTA), Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Equality California, Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC), Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU), Korean Resource Center, Laborers International Union, Local 300, LA Dream Team, La Raza Law Students Association, UC Davis, Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Pastoral Juvenil de la Arquidiócesis de Los Ángeles (PJLA), Peralta Community College District, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), UCLA Labor Center, University of California (UC),University of California Student Association (UCSA) , University of California Student Association (UCSA) and UAW 2865.

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