Governor Jerry Brown Signs Dream Act

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Dream Act into law today, saying that California needs to provide more educational opportunities to illegal immigrants. The legislation will make it possible for illegal immigrants to receive financial aid to attend California universities.

Brown said in a statement:

“Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking. The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Dream Act will allow illegal immigrants who are accepted into state universities to receive Cal-Grant assistance starting in 2013. The Cal-Grant assistance program provided an average of $4,500 to more than 370,000 low income students last year.

Governor Brown’s office said in a statement:

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“The overall Cal Grant program is funded at $1.4 billion, meaning that 1% of all Cal Grant funds will be potentially impacted by AB 131 when the law goes into effect.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that the controversial bill that a federal Dream Act failed to pass congress last year. The Federal Dream Act would have given undocumented students “a path to short-term permanent residency status.”

Currently, undocumented students can attend college (and pay resident tuition) if they have graduated from a California high school and can affirm that they are in the process of gaining legal status. The Dream Act will allow those students, starting in 2013, to receive public aid. The California Department of Finance estimates that the new legislation will cost approximately $14.5 million as more than 2500 students are expected to qualify for Cal Grants.

Do you agree with the Dream Act? Should illegal immigrants be able to obtain public aid for school?