MARCH 17, 2011
A state that has long awarded illegal immigrants with discounted tuition at public colleges and universities wants to take it a step further by also giving them millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded scholarships and financial aid.Under a measure that’s quickly making its way through California’s legislature, illegal immigrants will have access to state-funded financial aid as well as tens of millions of dollars in scholarship money that’s annually funneled through public foundations. Although illegal aliens have for years benefitted from heavily discounted in-state tuition at all California institutions of higher education, current law bans them from receiving additional aid and scholarships.The new bill—known as the California Dream Act—was introduced by a state lawmaker from Los Angeles and could reverse that policy by the end of the year. The measure was approved this week by a state legislative committee and has a great chance of becoming law because, unlike his predecessor who thrice vetoed it, California Governor Jerry Brown has vowed to sign it.If it passes, illegal immigrants attending California’s smallest university system—the 10-campus UC system—stand to receive between $2 million and $3 million a year in added benefits. Officials in the state’s two other systems, Cal State with 23 campuses and 112 community colleges have yet to estimate the figure but it’s sure to be a lot higher. The timing couldn’t be worst in a devastated public college system that’s suffering through a debilitating $500 million budget cut.But the assemblyman who has long pushed for the California Dream Act, Democrat Gil Cedillo, claims it will finally give students who were brought to the U.S. throughno choice of their own a true chance at the American dream. His bill will also help correct injustices against immigrants because he says “immigration policy throughout our history has been shaped by racism, fears of foreign influence, the anxiety generated from economic downturns and by political opportunism.”The president of California’s more prestigious UC system, Mark Yudof, refers to the illegal immigrants enrolled in his campuses as “leaders of tomorrow” whose “outstanding accomplishments” should not be disregarded or their future jeopardized “simply because of their legal status.”Besides California nine other states—including Texas, Utah, Kansas and New York—offer illegal immigrants discounted tuition at public colleges and several others have contemplated legislation to offer the perk. A few weeks ago Judicial Watch filed ataxpayer lawsuit against the Board of Trustees of Maryland’s Montgomery College for unlawfully granting discounted “in county” tuition rates to illegal aliens who graduate from local high schools.
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