California ‘Dream Act’ Offers Undocumented Students Path to Higher Education

BY Saskia de Melker  October 17, 2011 at 5:44 PM EDT

On October 8 California governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB131 into law, enabling undocumented students who meet state residency requirements to have access to state public funds for higher education.

It is the second half of legislation known as the California Dream Act. The first half, A130, was signed in July 2011 and allowed undocumented students to apply for private scholarships. AB 130 and AB 131 are slated to go into effect in January 2012 and January 2013, respectively.

There has been an outpouring of response to the latest bill from both supporters and opponents. The legislation has been highly controversial in a state with a severe economic and budget crisis. Leslie Berestein Rojas of the Multi-American blog, a project of Southern California Public Radio and part of the Argo Network at NPR, has been reporting on the legislation and says that Gov. Brown and supporters of the Dream Act claim that young people who qualify should have the opportunity to get a college education and do more than “just sweeping floors.” Some opponents, however, say that even with a college education, undocumented graduates won’t be able to start careers anyway because of their status.

Hari Sreenivasan spoke with Rojas recently about the implications of the California Dream Act.

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