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Brown Signs First Portion of California Dream Act, Broadening Financial Aid Availability for College

By Jeff Hudson - July 28, 2011

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 130 – known as the California Dream Act – which is one half of a two-bill package introduced by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) intended to make college more affordable for students brought to the country illegally by their parents.

Brown worked in a bit of symbolism by signing AB 130, which makes it easier for undocumented students to gain access to privately funded financial aid for college, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library at Los Angeles City College. In a light-hearted gesture, Brown placed the bill on Cedillo’s back as he officially signed the measure into law. Video of the signing can be found here.

Brown had made signing a state Dream Act one of his campaign promises during a debate with rival Meg Whitman during last year’s gubernatorial campaign. Brown’s predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, had vetoed earlier versions of the legislation.

Cedillo said. “By being here today you are giving testament to the importance of education and the value of hard work, dedication and academic excellence regardless of immigration status.”

The companion portion the Dream Act, AB 131, is still before the Legislature and faces significant opposition. AB 131 would open the state-funded Cal Grants program to the students.  Brown has not indicated whether he will sign AB 131 (if it is approved by the Legislature), saying he wants to see the final version of the bill on his desk before he makes a decision, but Brown is thought to favor AB 131’s goals.

In signing AB 130 on Monday, Brown said “This is one piece of a very important mosaic, which is a California that works for everyone, and a California who understands where our strength is. It’s also being able to go to a Community college or a state college and being able to afford it.”

The California Dream Act is not to be confused with federal legislation that is also known as the Dream Act. The federal legislation differs from Cedillo’s bills in that the federal bill creates a path to citizenship for some undocumented students – California, as a state, cannot grant citizenship; only the federal government can do that. The most recent version of the federal Dream Act was voted down shortly after last November’s Congressional election.

Editor's Note:  Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.