Brown signs California Dream Act

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the California Dream Act, which makes illegal immigrants eligible for state financial aid at public universities and community colleges, reports the Los Angeles Times.

However, the governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed state universities to consider applicants’ race, gender and income to ensure diversity.  A state initiative bans college admission preferences based on race and ethnicity.

Brown also vetoed a bill that would have made it harder to start charter schools.

The California Dream Act applies to students who’ve graduated from state high school after attending for at least three years and have affirmed they’re trying to legalize their status. Starting in 2013, they’ll be able to apply for Cal-Grants for low-income students, University of California and California State University grants and community college fee waivers.

“Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking,” Brown said in a statement. “The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us.”

The Dream Act will allow 2,500 additional students to qualify for Cal-Grants  at a cost of $14.5 million, Brown estimates.  That represents 1 percent of the total cost.

The state budget is in the red. More cuts to higher education are likely.  Already, students are having trouble getting into the classes they need, especially at the community college level.

Republicans predict the Dream Act will draw more illegal immigrants to the state. A state initiative to repeal the bill is likely.

California dreaming

California’s Dream Act, which offers state aid to undocumented college students, passed the Legislature on Friday; Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill.

High school graduates with three or more years in California could apply for Cal Grants, which pay for tuition, fees, books and living expenses for lower-income students.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, introduced the bill and said that it is necessary to ensure that California has an educated workforce in the future, including students who didn’t come to the country by their own choice but excelled in school.

“We will need them for our future, for our position in the global economy,” he said. “We don’t have one student to spare.”

Democrats passed the bill on a party-line vote.

The bill is expected to cost the state up to $40 million per year to fund grants to an estimated 34,000 community college students, 3,600 in the California State University system, and as many as 642 in the University of California system.

Once students earn degrees, they’ll be unable to work legally in the state, critics said. The federal Dream Act, which includes a path to citizenship through college attendance or military service, has failed repeatedly.

Degree doesn’t help illegal immigrants

California has passed the “Half Dream Act,” which opens state-run private scholarships to undocumented students who’ve graduated from the state’s high schools. But, even if they earn a college degree, undocumented immigrants end up in the same jobs as their parents, concludes a University of Chicago survey. Without legal immigration status, they typically work in construction, restaurants, cleaning and child care.

Also on Community College SpotlightMost community college students are women, but most athletes are male, reports the New York Times. A Florida college has achieved gender equity  by spending to recruit female athletes directly from college and by limiting men’s sports.

‘Dream Team’ aids undocumented students

Erick Velazquillo came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 2. Now studying nutrition at a North Carolina community college, the 22-year-old hopes a “Dream Team” of young immigrants will help him avoid deportation.

In a Senate hearing on the DREAM Act, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the administration would not issue a blanket amnesty to DREAM-eligible students.  However, she said “it really doesn’t make sense” to deport college students who’d be allowed to stay if the bill passes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will focus its limited resources on immigrants who pose a threat to public safety, she said.

Court upholds California’s DREAM Act

California charges in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who completed at least three years in a California high school. Monday the California Supreme Court rejected a challenge to AB540, known as the state DREAM Act, which benefits an estimated 25,000 California students. Among them is Pedro Ramirez, student body president at Fresno State, reports The Fresno State Collegian.

Ramirez came to California at the age of three with his parents. A high school valedictorian, he tried to join the military but discovered he was undocumented. As an AB 540 student, Ramirez is ineligible for federal and state aid. He turned down pay for the student government job because he’s not allowed to work in the U.S. Ramirez is majoring in agricultural economics and political science. His future is uncertain.

“I’m going to graduate soon,” he said. “What am I going to use my degree for? And in the next few weeks they will be voting on the only hope that I have.”

The lame-duck Congress will debate the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which is unlikely to pass.  The law would create a path to citizenship for undocumented students who graduate from high school and qualify for military service or college.

DREAM Act would help few migrants

The DREAM Act would create a path to legal status for undocumented minors who arrived before the age of 16, if they graduate from high school and complete two years of college or serve in the military within a six-year period. It’s not going to pass before the November elections, though supporters are holding a “DREAM University teach-in” across from the White House.

But if it ever does, only 38 percent of young immigrants are likely to benefit, predicts a study by the Migration Policy Institute.  Most won’t meet the education hurdles, reports Education Week.

Many of the undocumented immigrants who it seems could be beneficiaries of the DREAM Act don’t have a high school education and have such limited English that it would be hard for them to be admitted to college or serve in the military, the researchers in the study conclude. One of the criteria for getting conditional legalization is having graduated from a U.S. high school. The researchers estimate that only about 825,000, or 38 percent, of the 2.1 million potential beneficiaries would eventually attain legal status.

Of course, young students might work harder in school, if they knew academic competence was a path to legalization. But the alternative path — marriage to a citizen or legal resident — may seem easier.

Scholarship open to illegal immigrants

On Community College Spotlight:  In honor of a young immigrant rights activist killed in a car crash, a community college is offering a privately funded scholarship for immigrant students, including illegal immigrants. Controversy has ensued.

College students without papers

On Spotlight:  North Carolina opened the community college doors to undocumented students willing to pay out-of-state tuition; then the system president slammed the doors shut again.  More policy changes are likely.

$50 per kid for college

Every San Francisco kindergartener would get a city-funded $50 college savings bond under a plan proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, write columnists Matier and Ross.

The idea behind the Kindergarten to College program would be for San Francisco to seed an account for each of the 4,500 children who enter kindergarten in the city’s public schools each year. The students and their families would take it from there.

The money could be used only for college and would come out of the general fund.

All students would be eligible for the $50, regardless of immigration status.  However, many illegal immigrants don’t have bank accounts. Newsom, who’s planning a run for governor, is trying to figure out how to  deal with that.