California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the "Dream Act."Brown in July fulfilled a campaign promise by signing into law a companion bill to allow illegal immigrants to receive privately-funded college scholarships. Together the two bills have been dubbed the "California Dream Act."Only two other states, Texas and New Mexico, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for state financial aid for college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking," Brown said in a written statement issued by his office.
"The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us," he said.
Despite the claims of opponents about the cost to the state of such legislation, the numbers involved actually are pretty small.
For the 2007-2008 academic year, the University of California reports that less than three-tenths of one percent of the system's 220,000 students were immigrants who qualified for in-state tuition.Proponents, of course, speak to the cost to the state economy of NOT educating the best and brightest, no matter where their parents may have come from or how they got here.
More than 68 percent of those 1,941 students were U.S. citizens or "documented" immigrants, according to the University of California.
At the state universities, the new law would affect 3,633 students, or less than one percent of the 440,000 students enrolled in the current school year.
Of the nearly 2.9 million community college enrollees, 34,057 would be affected.