Weeks before the massive influx of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from Mexico and Central America hit the U.S. southwestern border, California came one step closer to authorizing $9.2 million to fund undocumented students with college loans under the proposed California Dream Loan Program (SB 1210).
On May 28, the California state Senate pushed this pending legislation through by a vote of 26 to 11. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach) authored the bill with the intention to make it stick for the 2015-16 academic year.
The California Dream Loan Program would add a new funding stream for undocumented students’ higher education. Of the initial $9.2 million that the state would put aside for these loans, funding would break down with $2.3 million coming from the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems and $6.9 million from state funds. That means higher resident tuition and higher taxes.
The controversial 2011 California Dream Act, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, allowed students who entered the country illegally and resided in California to receive college scholarships from private funders. Undocumented students in California are already exempt from paying Nonresidential Supplemental Tuition, allowing them to pay in-state tuition (AB 540).
According to Lara’s website, some of the undocumented are also eligible for “state and institutional financial aid and fee waivers (under AB 130 and AB 131). The May 28 article, “Senate Passes Lara’s California Dream Loan Program,” stated that even with these perks, undocumented students have an estimated “gap in theirfinancial aid packages of roughly $5,000 to $6,000 at the University of California and $3,000 for California State University that other studentswith similar financial circumstances do not have.”
The article also cited an estimated 1,300 undocumented students attending UC and 6,400 attending CSU.
Lara is also the author of new legislation that “would allow people without Social Security numbers to get licensed as dentists, psychologists, nurses, pharmacists, real estate agents, barbers, security guards and 30-some other professions,” reported Fox News Latino.
This licensing legislation would build upon last year’s contentious law (AB 1024) that made national headlines for allowing illegal immigrants to practice law in California. Earlier this year, Lara proposed legislation that would expand access to healthcare coverage in California, regardless of immigration status; however, it was shot down, as Breitbart California reported.
On April 9, The Sacramento Bee reported that Lara officially introduced the Dream Loan Program with Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez and UC President Janet Napolitano by his side. Napolitano said that the UC “stands strongly behind this bill” as a means to put undocumented students “on equal footing with their peers.”
She added, “It’s about opportunity and it’s about fairness.”
Napolitano, former secretary of Homeland Security, insisted that, despite deporting undocumented immigrants last year, she has been “strongly in support of the Dream Act” as far back as when she was Arizona governor. Last October, she pledged $5 million in “new funds to support undocumented immigrants at UC campuses,” the Bee article also stated.
When Jerry Brown signed the Dream Act into California law three years ago, Los Angeles News KABC-7 reported, “So with the governor’s signature, the law allows students living in the country illegally to receive scholarships from non-state funds.”
At the time, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) said in response to this rerouting of taxpayer dollars, “I think most of us are concerned aboutusing our taxpayer subsidized college and university system for our own children and our grandchildren, not as an incentive to invite more people to comeinto the country illegally,” according to KABC-7.
Donnelly, the grassroots conservative, recently lost in the GOP gubernatorial primary to the more establishment Neel Kashkari, who was endorsed by Condoleezza Rice and Jeb Bush.
Back in 2011, Brown, referring to the Dream Act, said that the state must invest in its future. However, the Dream Loan Program may well make it a future that continues to come at the hefty expense of California’s taxpayers and its resident college students.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.