The California Assembly passed The California Dream Act on Thursday, Cinco de Mayo, to allow undocumented immigrants to receive financial assistance from non state funds. The Assembly approved the first of two "Dream Act" bills, Assembly Bill 130, which would allow a small segment of undocumented immigrants who currently qualify for in-state tuition to apply for scholarships from private donations. The majority Democrats passed the bill on a 51-21 party-line vote.
Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, has also proposed allowing these students to qualify for Cal Grants and other publicly funded aid.
"We cannot afford, our economy cannot afford, to deny educational opportunities to anyone who has the strength of character, the personal discipline, the intelligence, to make it" through California's college or university system," Cedillo said in a statement reported by Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee.
Cedillo's bills would apply to students who have attended a California high school for three years or more, graduated from a high school or attained an equivalent degree -- and, if they are undocumented, commit to legalizing their status.
The students targeted by AB 130 represent only a tiny fraction of college enrollment -- 1,941 at the University of California, 3,633 at California State University and 38,202 at community colleges. Undocumented immigrants comprise less than 3 percent of UC's figure and an unknown but perhaps higher percentage of those from state and community colleges.
For six years, Cedillo has campaigned unsuccessfully to allow college financial aid for immigrant students , saying they make up a significant portion of the state's workforce.