The DREAM Act movement strives to provide citizenship to undocumented students pursuing a higher education. Previously, we wrote a post on the national DREAM Act, which failed to pass through Senate last December. Though a state-level act cannot grant citizenship to such undocumented students, the recently passed California DREAM Act will grant undocumented students access to state funds to aid in their schooling expenses.
After former Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill three times, current Gov. Jerry Brown passed the two acts going into the state level DREAM Act for California. Put simply, this Act has two parts: AB130 and AB131. AB130, which was passed this past July, allows undocumented students to attain privately funded scholarships. The more recently passed AB131, which Gov. Brown signed into action this past Saturday, allows students to state funded financial aid programs.
AB131 is naturally more controversial and complicated, as many of those opposed to the DREAM Act will argue that undocumented students should not receive state-funded support, especially when the debt-ridden California budget is cutting back on education expenses.
However, the significance of the California DREAM Act is much bigger than that of allowing undocumented students more funding in California, although that is quite a noteworthy feat in and of itself. The bigger picture is that the California DREAM Act could create momentum to eventually bring up the national DREAM Act once again, so that citizenship can then be guaranteed under the conditions described in the bill.
In the aforementioned post from the past, I talked about a friend I knew for whom the DREAM Act would have changed his entire life. There are many people I know who also would and could benefit from this DREAM Act. No matter what arguments could be made for or against this piece of immigration legislation, I find the DREAM Act to be a personal issue because it (or the lack of it) has not just changed the lives of “undocumented students,” but the lives of my friends.