LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Monday a bill allowing illegal immigrants to receive privately funded scholarships to attend the state's public colleges and universities.
The bill, dubbed the California DREAM Act, passed the state legislature earlier this month and aims at helping illegal immigrants who earned a diploma after attending at least three years of high school in the state.
Enactment of the California measure came three days after opponents of a similar law in Maryland collected enough signatures to force a state referendum seeking its repeal.
“At the end of the day, if we're going to continue as a powerful, equal-opportunity society, we're going to have to invest in our people," Brown said at the signing ceremony in the library of a Los Angeles community college.
The California law is named after national legislation in Congress to give young, undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years a pathway to citizenship through college or military service.
The federal bill failed to win passage in December 2010, and its chances have dimmed since a newly elected Republican majority took control of the House of Representatives.
Critics say the California DREAM Act gives illegal immigrants a false promise because their status will not change after graduating from college and they will remain unable to find legal employment. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed an earlier version of the bill last year.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.