California pledges $30 million for Dreamers to pay for college, legal help

September 12, 2017

Community college is a good investment for the state – and students, according to a new report. Credit: Barbara Kinney, Foothill College

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California leaders took another step to support “Dreamers” on Tuesday by pledging $30 million for legal services and financial aid to help undocumented young people threatened with deportation by the Trump administration.

Gov. Jerry Brown, State Sen. President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) agreed to spend an additional $20 million on immigration legal services and $10 million on college financial aid for young people in California protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“We will not let one man with xenophobic tendencies undercut years of progress we have made in California to integrate these young adults into our society and economy,” de León said. “California is their home and they are our future.”

The money is part of two identical bills introduced Tuesday in the Assembly and Senate. The governor has until Friday, when the legislative session ends, to sign one of them.

The last-minute bills are in response to President Trump’s decision last week to end DACA, an Obama-era program that offered temporary legal protections for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. DACA status, which was renewable every two years, entitled young people to live and work legally in the U.S.

More than 200,000 of the country’s 800,000 DACA recipients live in California  the largest group in the country. The state’s public colleges and universities don’t track students’ immigration status, but officials estimate that many of the 72,300 undocumented students enrolled in the University of California, California State University and community college system are DACA recipients.

UC, the State of California and several other states have sued the Trump administration to save the DACA program, saying it plays an important role in the economic and social stability of the country. Trump is pressuring Congress to create broader immigration reform, but meanwhile the Department of Homeland Security has stopped accepting new DACA applications and the program will begin winding down by March 5.

The state’s pledge of $20 million for immigration legal services will funnel through One California, a state program that funds non-profit immigrant legal centers across the state. The state already spends $40-45 million annually on One California.

The $10 million financial aid package will go to the state’s Dream Loan program for undocumented students at UC and CSU, and the emergency loan program for community college students. One million will go to UC students, $2 million will go to CSU students and $7 million to community college students.

UC officials said they were grateful for the additional funding.

“(Dreamers) embody the American Dream and represent the best of our country,” UC said in a statement. “The University is thankful and confident that this additional state funding will help our Dreamers achieve their ambitious educational goals.”

At CSU, Chancellor Timothy White was in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss DACA with federal lawmakers.

“The California State University is appreciative of the work of the governor and legislative leaders to provide additional support to those who will be adversely impacted by the recent rescission of DACA,” said system spokeswoman Toni Molle. “We will continue to work with our federal leaders on long-term solutions that will benefit our students and employees.”






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