Skip to comments.Bill would give illegal immigrant students tuition assistance (California)
Posted on 10/13/2007 10:14:05 AM PDT by Dubya
A controversial bill on the governor's desk would give illegal immigrant college students in California new benefits, including access to state grants and fee waivers.
Immigrant rights groups have urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign Senate Bill 1, also known as the California Dream Act, saying it would give those students hope for a better future. But the governor rejected a similar bill last year and opponents say the measure would stretch the state's already tight resources.
"I guess California hasn't figured out what to do with its revenue surpluses," said Ira Mehlman, referring to the state's ongoing budget shortfall. He is a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that advocates stricter immigration measures.
As the clock ticked Friday, groups on both sides of the immigration debate petitioned the governor in favor of and against the bill. On Friday evening, it was one of more than 300 bills awaiting action in his office. He has until midnight Sunday to act on the legislation.
Approved by the Legislature last month, the bill applies to financially needy illegal immigrant students. It would make them eligible for state grants or community college fee waivers if they graduate from California high schools after attending for at least three years.
The measure, by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, also would give a break to U.S. citizens who graduate from a California high school but then move out of state. It would make them eligible for the same aid programs if they wanted to return to California for college.
The divisive measure was approved largely along partisan lines. North County's delegation of Republican lawmakers voted against the bill, including Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad. He said it's wrong to give illegal immigrants the same tuition benefits as citizens.
"I'm not in favor of giving benefits to illegal immigrants at the expense of other individuals who are citizens of the U.S.," Garrick said.
Supporters of the bill say it's a matter of fairness for students whose parents, though they may be in the country illegally, contribute to the state economy through their labor and taxes, including sales and property taxes.
"It would be a very important bill to pass," said Yvette Felarca, co-founder of a nationwide network of student civil rights organizations.
"It's an important step in the right direction," said Felarca in a telephone interview from Berkeley.
Students have organized several rallies, including one in front of the state Capitol earlier this month, in support of the bill. Felarca said her organization also advocates for the legalization of illegal immigrant students.
A bill expected to come before the U.S. Senate next month would give illegal immigrants who came into the country as children a chance to become legal residents by serving two years in the military or completing two years of college.
California is already one of nine states that allows illegal immigrant students to pay the same public college or university fees as state residents who are U.S. citizens, rather than the much higher fees faced by students coming from out of state.
That only applies to illegal immigrant students who graduated from a California high school after attending it for at least three years. The students also must apply for legal status.
Schwarzenegger vetoed the California Dream Act bill last year, saying it would allow illegal immigrant students to apply for competitive state grants.
"While I do not believe that undocumented students should be penalized for the acts of their parents, this bill would penalize students here legally by reducing the financial aid they rely on to allow them to go to college and pursue their dreams," Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message last year.
Under this year's bill, Cedillo eliminated competitive grants that the governor mentioned in his message. Illegal immigrant students would only be eligible for grants that are available to all students who qualify based on academic achievement and financial need.
That means other students would not be displaced by illegal immigrants, Cedillo said in a written statement.
A spokesman for the governor said Schwarzenegger had not taken a position on the Cedillo bill but was "thoroughly reviewing it."
About 20,000 students are enrolled in California community colleges and universities under Assembly Bill 540, which allows illegal immigrants and nonresident students to pay the lower tuition fee, according to the state figures.
A Senate analysis of the bill estimated it would cost the state about $4.7 million in grants and about $8 million in community college fee waivers.
Supporters of the bill say it's money well spent.
Bill De La Fuente, who founded a North County Latino merchants group that raises money for scholarships aimed at illegal immigrant students, said it makes financial sense to invest in students eager to get an education regardless of their immigration status.
"I'm for it because of the capitalist idea that if you educate a student, that student is going to do more for the economy than not educating them," De La Fuente said.
Opponents say the state cannot afford to reward illegal immigrants.
"Even though it wasn't the kids that made the decision to come here illegally... their parents are indirectly rewarded," Mehlman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Texas already has such a law.
Can you guess which former Texas Governor signed it into law?
This is such a... I don't have polite words to describe this. To think, if you came to California on a student visa, like many foreign students do, you pay out of state. Hell all they need to do is over stay their visas and demand instate tuition.
There is something very wrong with the world today.
LOL Wonder who he is.
Nothing Arnold signs until he leaves office could be worse than what he signed yesterday...the bill mandating a Queer Nation in all California schools.
We are governed by criminals.
God, I hope the taxpayers rise up in revolt. Damn! If this passes in CA, WA will follow suit. WA is the bastard sibling of CA.
Roger that (I also live in Washington)! I would only hope that taxpayers will get a clue someday about just how much contempt our politicians and judges have for us.
I for one smell frog soup.
On Friday, Fraudoire was being interviewed by MSM. She was telling what a great job she was doing for the state. She never mentioned raising the state budget from $27 billion to over $45 billion, nor gutting Initiative 601 in January 2006 to prevent politicians like her from raising taxes without a vote of the people, nor raising the gas tax to where WA consumers pay the highest gas tax in the west. GGGGGGrrrrrr!!!!!
Ah Queen Christine. About a week ago she was bad mouthing Prop. 960 (no surprise there) and had the gaul to say that tax policies are best left to “elected (like her) representatives.”
And be kicked off FR? Are you nuts?
She has no use for the “little folk” other than to use them and tax them into servitude.
RE-ELECT NO ONE !
And when the illegal graduates with a college degree, where's s/he supposed to get employment? It's still illegal to hire them, and companies that hire college grads are much bigger sticklers about checking immigration status than fast-food outlets or farms.
Well, he vetoed it... he got sumthin’ right today (even if for the wrong reason).
To the Members of the California State Senate:
I am returning Senate Bill 1 without my signature.
At a time when segments of California public higher education, the University of
California and the California State University, are raising fees on all students attending
college in order to maintain the quality of education provided, it would not be prudent to
place additional strain on the General Fund to accord the new benefit of providing state
subsidized financial aid to students without lawful immigration status. Under existing
law, undocumented students, who meet the required criteria, already qualify for the lower
in-state tuition rate while attending California public colleges and universities.
Therefore, I cannot sign this bill.
That’s good to hear!