A bill giving illegal immigrants state-financed aid for college is halfway to passage in the California Legislature, although a Republican lawmaker says he will try to organize a public referendum to quash the measure if it becomes law, according to The New York Times
The Democratic Senate approved the measure overwhelmingly on Wednesday along a party-line vote. The amended bill is expected to gain approval in the Democratic State Assembly within the next week.
The bill’s title, California Dream Act, echoes bills the Obama administration and Democrats have pushed to provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but it focuses on education benefits. It would give illegal immigrants more such perks than another state, the Times reports.
“Advocates of the legislation say it would also send a powerful message to President Obama and Congress, forcing them to reconcile a patchwork of state laws that contradict one another,” the Times notes.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said during the election campaign last fall that he would support such a law. This summer, he signed into law a measure that gave illegal immigrants access to privately financed state scholarships and other aid. Although he has not declared publicly that he would sign this measure, the Times reported that his staffers have been working with legislators to amend it to trim some costs.
The legislation is projected to cost about $40 million, according to a Senate analysis, about 1 percent of the state’s total $3.5 billion budget for college financial aid.
Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican who represents San Bernardino, intends to organize a public referendum to overturn the measure if it becomes law.
“The governor is coming to the folks and saying they need to pay more, and then he’s going to turn around and say we still have money to hand over to people who are in the country illegally,” the Times quotes Donnelly as saying. “That is absolutely wrong. We are saying to the world: ‘If you haven’t come to California yet illegally, come as soon you can.’ And we’re saying to the people who came legally: ‘You guys are idiots.’ ”
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