In July California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law part one of the DREAM Act, which eased the requirements, for students who entered the United States illegally prior to the age of 16 with their parents, to apply for and receive private fund financial aid for higher education.
This was the first step in what had been a long and arduous journey headed by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), author of the California DREAM Act legislation.
On Wednesday the Senate approved the second part of this legislation allowing these same students the opportunity to apply for public financial aid.
The measure would allow undocumented students who qualify for reduced in-state tuition to apply for Cal Grants, community college waivers and other public aid programs. To be eligible, they must be California high school graduates who attended schools in the state at least three years, and demonstrate financial need and academic merit.
For the students this is a significant step and recognition of the hard work, the dedication, and their belief in the American dream. Many if not most of the students where brought into California by their parents at a young age and for all intents and purposes are US citizens at heart. They have succeeded in school and are preparing for the future – that up to this time had been denied to them by financial constraints. These students are a part of the future and leaders of the Hispanic community.
For the Hispanic community in general this is a significant step in regards to the issue of immigration. It is in recognition of the contributions and of the future of the state. It also recognizes the impact of the Hispanic community as voters.
With Senate approval part two of the bill now heads to back to the Assembly which much now approve Senate amendments. The Assembly already passed an earlier version. The bill will then go before Governor Brown who must sign the bill before it becomes law.
In part the governor recognized the impact the Hispanic vote had on his election in approving the first part of the act. But this is not the sole purpose in approving this bill. Education of our youth is the right thing to do. These students are not second class citizens and deserve the right to continue their education. They are our future!