'Dream Act' approved by California Assembly

The Sacramento BeeMay 6, 2011 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Illegal immigrants could receive college financial aid under legislation approved Thursday by the Assembly and apparently destined for the desk of a new Democratic governor who supports the concept.

California could add fuel to the national debate over illegal immigrants' rights by signing into law the "Dream Act" measure, Assembly Bill 130.

"This bill will ring across the country," Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, told dozens of Latino supporters of the bill after Thursday's 51-21 vote.

AB 130, among other things, would allow a small segment of illegal immigrants – those who currently qualify for in-state college tuition – to apply for aid from private gifts or endowments that totaled more than $72 million last year.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo proposed both AB 130 and a pending companion measure – AB 131 – that would open the financial door wider by allowing those illegal immigrants to seek Cal Grants and other public aid.

Cedillo, a Los Angeles Democrat who has pushed the issue for six years, called Thursday's vote historic because of prospects that the Democrat-controlled Senate will pass and Gov. Jerry Brown will sign one or both of his bills.

On the campaign trail last year, Brown, heavily supported by Latinos, expressed support for college aid to illegal immigrants. He has not taken a public position on AB 130, however.

Evan Westrup, Brown's spokesman, said Thursday that the "governor continues to support the principles behind the Dream Act and will closely consider legislation that reaches his desk."

Laura Alvarado, a 17-year-old undocumented student from Los Angeles, said she dreams of becoming a doctor and knows that her mother, employed at a yoga college, would be hard pressed to pay the tuition tab.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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