Threat and Response
By Susan Ferriss
State legislators are trying for a third time to pass a version of the California DREAM Act, which would open limited college financial aid to some of the estimated 25,000 undocumented students who graduate each year from California high schools.
Two identical bills are under scrutiny in committees in the Senate and Assembly, sponsored by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, also a Democrat from Los Angeles.
The latest version of the California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would make undocumented students eligible for scholarships and grants offered by California's community colleges, state universities and campuses in the University of California system. It does not include the competitive Cal Grants.
Supporters say this version would largely exclude state funds. It would allow institutions to offer financial aid from funds they directly control that are fed through sources such as grants, tuition and private donations.
Opponents contend that all funding is public if a public institution is handling it. They predict Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is likely to veto this proposal for that reason, as he has vetoed other less restrictive versions twice before.