Governor’s Veto of The Dream Act limits the Future for Many

This week the US Senate refused to take up a measure entitled, The DREAM ACT, legislation that would have protected certain children of illegal immigrants from deportation and qualified young adults up to age 30 for permanent legal residency if they completed at least two years of either post-secondary education or military service.
Earlier this month, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have provided financial aid to California’s undocumented youngsters who are attending college. While the issue of immigration has taken on an intensity not seen in this state and country for many years, Speak Out California’s board member, Dyanne Cano, provides her thoughts as a young woman of color on the subject for our readers.

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On October 13, 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Senator Gil
Cedillo’s (D-Los Angeles) SB 1, also known as the California Dream Act, which would have allowed undocumented Californians access to college financial aid.
He wrote the following in response to the veto:
“At a time when segments of California public higher education, the
University of California and the California State University are raising fees on all students attending college in order to maintain the quality of education provided, it would not be prudent to place additional strain on the General Fund to accord the new benefit of providing state subsidized financial aid to students without lawful immigration status.”
However, according to the Los Angeles Times in its October 10 op-ed piece, “The Legislature already has funded grants for students going to the UC or CSU systems, so the only new line item would be the $1.9 million added to the existing $273-million budget for community college aid.”
After the governor’s veto, Cedillo told the Los Angeles Times, “The governor has basically said today that immigrants can do the hardest and most dangerous jobs in California, but they are not allowed to dream for a better future.”
The week before the bill was vetoed, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial supporting the measure. While the piece makes a strong case as to why the governor needed to support this bill, it also reminds us of California’s increasing “permanent underclass.” By not allowing undocumented students the access to higher-level education, the governor is denying our state a future workforce that is educated and competent.
What message are we sending our young students, documented or not, when we are increasingly raising the price of college tuition and fees without access to sufficient financial aid? What incentive is there to do well in school if you won’t have access to college because of the inequalities set up by the state?
Click here for the LA Times op-ed piece.
Dyanne Cano is the Director of Community Service/Service Learning for the Oakwood School, having previously been program coordinator at the Joint Educaitonal Project at USC. She also volunteers as a Program Assistant to “Writers Bloc” , an LA based literary series that features young authors and their work.