One of the two bills making up the California DREAM Act passed 7-2 in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday, moving the bill a step further through the California legislature.
Assembly Bill 131, approved Wednesday, would amend the law that currently bars undocumented students from receiving aid from public sources. Undocumented students would be able to receive financial aid, including Cal Grants and other forms of state aid, along with assistance at the community college level.
Earlier this month, the companion bill, AB 130, was passed in the committee. This would allow undocumented students to receive money from privately derived funds.
Abel Valenzuela, professor and chair of the CÃ©sar E. ChÃ¡vez Department of Chicana/o Studies, said he believes it is likely that both bills will move through the state legislature because of the current Democratic majority.
Valenzuela said he also anticipates that Gov. Jerry Brown will sign the bill, since he supported the passing of the bill during his campaign. Previous versions of the DREAM Act were vetoed multiple times by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“The governor promised it as part of his campaign and so far, he has kept his word on other policy issues,” Valenzuela said.
Joelle Gamble, external vice president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, has prioritized the DREAM Act on her agenda, arranging “calling days” during which students contact legislators and government representatives, urging them to pass the two bills.
“We made 180 calls in a six-hour period, which went very well,” Gamble said. “We got feedback that this was instrumental to getting (the bill) out of the Assembly.”
The next stop for both bills will be the full Senate. Last year, a version of the California DREAM Act passed in both houses of the state legislature but was vetoed by Schwarzenegger, who had vetoed two other versions before that.