Friday, September 2, 2011

Crumbling California Close to Passing Dream Act

Crumbling California Close to Passing Dream Act
by Jarrett Stepman

Illegal immigrants are California dreaming with yesterday's passage of the Dream Act in the Golden State's senate. If it passes through the overwhelmingly Democratic assembly it will soon be on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown.

This part of the overall push for amnesty in California is actually the second part of the Dream Act that was passed earlier this year and signed by Brown.

That earlier piece of legislation approved private loans and scholarships to illegal immigrants, but this new bill will go even further.

On top of the private funding, illegal immigrants will now be able to receive state grants, fee waivers and university scholarships. There is around $40 million dollars in public funds that illegal immigrant students can compete for, which is added to the $88 million in private funds that they were given access to in the previous part of the California Dream Act.

This plan essentially allows an illegal immigrant to receive the same benefits from the system as a citizen or a legal immigrant. So it's basically a full-fledged amnesty program.

California Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who was one of the bill’s authors, said of the program, “This is a very smart decision for the state. It’s not necessarily popular or without controversy, but we have to get these students fully educated.”

Of course, California student activists, many of whom have taken advantage of previous amnesty programs, are thrilled about the bill, but want to show the country just how important, valuable and cost-effective they really are.

The founders of the high-school activist group Wise Up were part of a successful push to get a previous amnesty law passed, AB 540, which allowed illegal immigrants to pay instate instead of out-of-state tuition rates. This basically allows illegal immigrants to take advantage of cheaper rates than American citizens living in other states.

AB 540, which was passed back in 2001, may at some point be brought to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, it acts as an amnesty program for thousands of illegal immigrants, a number that will continue to grow if new programs are implemented.

Wise Up was able to create the college-level California Dream Network, another student-led amnesty group.

The California Dream Network, which contains activists from 38 colleges and universities across the state, is showing their appreciation of illegal immigration funding and how much that aid means to them. They plan to do this by walking across the United States from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., a trip that will require raising more than $200,000 in funding, plus a year off from school for all participants.

The California Dream Network’s agenda: “Serve as a base for the mobilization, politicization and empowerment of young people regardless of their citizenship status, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation and ethnic nationality, in the larger social movement for equal access to education, immigration reform, and economic and social justice.”

California, struggling with immigration issues like most border states, has made efforts in the past to stem the tide of illegal immigration. This happened most famously in 1994, when Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and Republicans throughout the state supported ballot proposition 187. The initiative was designed to prevent illegal immigrants from using social services within the state.

The impact was a dramatic defeat at the polls for Prop 187, with Republican state representatives having little stomach to deal with the immigration problems in the state.

The inability to do anything about the growing number of immigrants only contributes to the overall problems of a state that has high taxes and extensive social welfare programs but is buckling under the weight of crushing deficits and widespread unemployment.

After the failure to pass Prop 187, there have been few major pushes for any kind for immigration reform that do not revolve around amnesty in one way or another. This most recent passage of the Dream Act in California is unlikely to be the last, as pro-amnesty advocates feel empowered to push for more and more expansive programs.

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