California Dream Act inches closer to reality

Students who meet in-state tuition requirements are closer to getting financial aid.

The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk. AB 130 was passed by the state assembly and is now moving to the senate. Its companion bill, AB 131, has been put into suspension.

AB 130, authored by Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, states undocumented students would receive “specified financial aid programs administered by California’s public colleges and universities,” according to Cedillo’s website.

Conrado Terrazas, communications deputy for Cedillo, said the main goal is to help the economy.

“If you have these students graduate from college and get a master’s or a Ph.D. or a B.A., they’re going be able to contribute to the economy,” Terrazas said.

He added that would also help the students.

“These are the best (students).  Kids who have done well in high school and they have applied and been accept to college,” Terrazas said. “This should not prevent them from being able to succeed.”

He added that students who would normally receive a scholarship and complete the process of meeting the requirement would benefit.

“The only thing preventing those students from receiving that is the fact that they’re undocumented,” Terrazas said.

Terrazas said the deadline for all bills to be given and pushed to the governor’s desk is Sept. 9.

“Then he has until Oct. 9 to sign,” Terrazas said.

Terrazas added AB 130 pertains to private scholarships from businesses or corporations.

“AB 131, which covers Cal grants, institutional aid and Board of Governors (BOGC) fee waivers for community colleges,” Terrazas said.

AB 131 is now in suspension and chair of Assembly Appropriations Committee, Felipe Fuentes and the head of the budget committee Bob Blumenfield will decide if it will be released.

“It needs to be voted by the appropriations committee by the end May or it would die,” Terrazas said.

Terrazas said Gov. Jerry Brown said he supported the Dream Act in a debate last fall.

Erik Fallis, CSU media specialist, said the system has always been a long time supporter of this type of legislature.

“We are an institution built on access. We believe in providing broad access to higher education,” Fallis said.

He added the CSU believes it’s “important” for the most amounts of people to have access to higher education.

“To better themselves, to better their lives and to have access to a bright economic future,” Fallis said.

Fallis said this legislation will help to “generate prosperity for their community.”

Fallis said allowing more access to the CSUs would help the entire state.

He said another consideration when it comes to this bill is the number of students it would affect in the CSU.

“We’re talking about a small population,” Fallis said. “Its much less than 1 percent. We are not talking about a huge number of people.”

“There are so many positive benefits not only for the individual but for society as a whole,” Fallis said.

Javiera Infante is one of the founding member of the San Fernando Valley Dream Team.

“I started organizing in January and the group has grown to 10 very active members,” Infante said. “This is a pretty good base for the time being.”

She said the organization was “very excited” about the passage of AB 130.

“We were very confident it was going to pass because it’s the easier half of the California Dream Act,” Infante said. “So we were very sure we weren’t going to have a problem.”

Infante said it is “crucial” to get AB 131 out of suspension and onto the Assembly floor.

“We need that financial aid the state can provide for us,” Infante said. “Having the private scholarships is a great help and we’re very happy about that but most important is having access to the state-funded help.”

Infante said the Dream Team is holding a town hall May 14 at Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima to inform the community of the Dream Act.

“Fuentes represents a large portion of the valley,” Infante said. “We want people to know he has the power to move the bill out of appropriations.”