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Immigration

DREAM Act (Part II) Breaks Out of Committee, Heads to California State Senate Floor

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Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 12:05 PM

click to enlarge Free ride for students sin papers?
  • Free ride for students sin papers?
The controversial second part of the DREAM Act just overcame its biggest obstacle to becoming a reality.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the first part without blinking an eye last month: Based on that bill, undocumented immigrants can now receive private scholarships from California universities.

But part two, AB 131, is a trickier beast. It would allow all illegal aliens who have graduated high school (or passed the GED) to receive taxpayer-funded financial aid, such as CalGrants. The bill has been stuck in both Senate and Assembly committees...

... for months, because of its large price tag. But as of this morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee has released it to legislators for a final vote.

From here, the largely liberal Senate is expected to pass it, as well as the Assembly, says Luis Quinonez, legislative aid to Assemblymember Gil Cedillos, the L.A. politician who proposed the bill.

Where AB 131's future is still unclear is on the desk of Governor Brown.

"He hasn't explicitly indicated support," says Quinonez. And initially, Brown "did raise concerns about the costs of the bill."

However, the Assemblymember's aid says that since Brown saw it last, DREAM Act (Part II) has been rewritten to exclude adult-school and technical-school students. So its costs are now clearer, and perhaps more feasible amid California's budget crisis.

Still -- it'll cost taxpayers from $20.5 million to $30.5 million a year. (View its full history in the Legislature here.)

The ticket to a better future for undocumented immigrants should be out of Senate by early next week, and to Brown by the first few days of September, according to Quinonez. "All California bills have to be out before September 9," he says, "and we don't want to wait until deadline."

We've contacted Brown's office to feel out his level of support for the bill. (Though on the optimistic front, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles says "we expect him to sign.")

This is big, guys. Aside from President Obama's radical move toward amnesty last week, it would be the most boat-roacking victory for immigration activists -- especially young, educated ones -- in recent history.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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