Monday, July 25, 2011


On July 25 Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law AB 130 [Assemblyman Gil Cedillo] which now permits undocumented college students to access various private financial aid sources to assist them attend college in the state.

This is the first time in the country that undocumented students will be able to apply legally for private tuition grants to enter and remain in college programs.

Keep in mind that this California DREAM Act is aimed at helping those students who were brought to the State as minors 16 or younger, and whose only country of memory is the United States.

But AB 130 still only helps with the simple part of solving the plight of these young men and women. The more important need is to have Congress pass the federal DREAM Act so that these students might also access a legal path to residency and eventually to citizenship. Then, having graduated from a college or university in California, they would be able to get jobs legally, become contributing members of our society, and start paying taxes.

On February 9 of this year, I placed a blog entitled "Tragic Waste of Our Youth and Our Money" showing how we invest about $174,000 educating these young people in high school and college, but when they are now ready to pay taxes and begin returning that investment, we won't allow them.

Hindering undocumented college students is wrong on all counts--morally, socially, and economically. With some 10,000 baby boomers beginning to retire each day across the country, we will need all of our college and university graduates to not only fill those jobs, but to help create new employment opportunities in exciting new fields.

With some 11,000,000 undocumented people living in our country, with many working and living in the shadows and on the edges of our society, we have a moral obligation to enact Federal legislation which ends our national dilemma: how to balance the need for legal workers at all levels of the work force with the availability of workers.

Assemblyman Cedillo has a companion Bill, AB 131, which would allow these same students to apply for certain California tuition assistance programs, such as Cal Grants. That Bill is pending in the legislature.

I understand the views and feelings of those who oppose giving undocumented residents any recognition or assistance. But leaving millions of people in underground employment and in the shadows of society does not strengthen our nation--it weakens it.

The California DREAM Act is a first step in recognizing the potential which our undocumented college students are ready to offer the State. But we now need a structured path whereby they can become legal residents able to contribute fully to the economic and social development of our communities.

Sadly, political polarization has stymied Congress in its efforts to enact desperately needed immigration reform. The Federal focus is only on enforcement--which only misdirects our limited resources to chasing employed people like criminals.

We should be directing our energy helping to bring these people into full legal compliance so that their employment more fully builds up the nation as legal taxpayers.