UPDATE, AUGUST 31, 3:59 P.M.:
Last week the state Senate appropriations committee pulled the second half of California's
out of suspense. Today, the Senate passed AB 131,
the bill that would give undocumented students access to Cal Grants and some other state money, with a 22-11 vote.
So, where's the bill headed next? The state Assembly. Conrado Terrazas, a spokesman for the bill's author, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), says he expects the Assembly to vote on the bill tomorrow.
The office buzzed with celebration today, Terrazas says. "We're very excited, yes, very excited. We're almost there, but it's not over until it's over."
Cedillo, who says he fully expects the bill to pass the Assembly and eventually get the governor's signature, too, thanked his fellow lawmakers today. "California State Senators demonstrated their commitment to help foster the development of future architects, doctors, teachers, scientists and scholars who are crucial to the success of the California economy," Cedillo said in a statement.
The Orange County Dream Team
, a group of local activists, has lobbied in support of AB 130, the first bill in the two-part DREAM Act,
and AB 131. This Saturday, the Dream Team is hosting at art exhibit at the Libreria Martinez
in Santa Ana. For more information on the event, which will feature artwork made by undocumented students, visit the Facebook page.
UPDATE, AUGUST 25, 4:40 P.M.:
Assemblyman Gil Cedillo
, the Los Angeles democrat who authored the state's DREAM Act, says he's "very satisfied" with today's news and thinks it will become law eventually.
Despite past failures to reach the finish line -- during Schwarzenegger's stint as governor he vetoed versions of the DREAM Act -- Cedillo says he thinks now is the time. "Now we have new leadership, leadership that looks forward. We're happy that Governor Brown has indicated he's dedicated to these young men and women."
Cedillo's staff made some recent cost-cutting amendments to the bill, which should make it even more appealing to the governor, he says. "We're working with the governor's office so we can make sure that we have done all we can to reduce cost to the state." If it becomes law, the bill would carry about a $30 million price tag, Cedillo says. He added: "That's less than 1 percent of the cost of funding our students.
Cedillo hopes that if the Dream Act passes in California, it will start a nationwide trend. "We think that California, well we know, it's a leader in public policy. We think this does set an example for other states around the county."
Even if Governor Brown signs the bill, the state won't start issuing grants to undocumented students until sometime after the start of the next budget cycle - July 1, 2012.
ORIGINAL POST, AUGUST 25, 1:57 P.M.: AB 131
, the second half of California's DREAM Act, cleared a significant hurdle today.
The bill, which would make undocumented students eligible for Cal Grants and some other financial aid from the state, was pulled out of the Senate appropriations committee this morning. The committee had until tomorrow to act on the bill, which had been stuck in suspense for a while.
"It has already been released to the Senate floor," says Conrado Terrazas, communications director for Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who authored the bill.
Alexis Nava Teodoro, a Cal State Long Beach student and an activist with the Orange County Dream Team, says he watched a live stream of the appropriation committee's vote earlier.
"It's huge. This is huge. It's going to set a precedent. I'm most excited about the symbolism this is going to have nationally," Teodoro says. "Now undocumented students aren't going to feel as hopeless."
Teodoro says today is especially meaningful to him because he feels like he helped make it a reality. "It felt good that finally we have been able to see results for something that we've been working on for so long," Teodoro says of the Orange County Dream Team's efforts in raising awareness about undocumented students and convincing politicians to support AB131.