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Cedillo Back With DREAM Act

Los Angeles Garment & Citizen, News Report, Sam Hassan Posted: Mar 22, 2009

22nd District California State Senator Gil Cedillo has once again introduced legislation calling for otherwise qualified illegal immigrants to be eligible for certain types of privately funded financial aid for college.

Cedillo represents Downtown and surrounding areas, and he recently introduced Senate Bill 160 also known as the DREAM Act, named for a similar piece of federal legislation called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act in the upper house of the state legislature. Such legislation requires passage in the Senate and State Assembly along with a signature from the governor to become law. The DREAM Act has passed the legislature but fallen to a veto by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in each of the past two years.

Cedillo said his latest effort goes beyond the subject of immigration, which has proved a hot-button for opponents of past attempts to make the DREAM Act law.

"We face a challenging economic downturn in our state, and damaging cuts to higher education," Cedillo said. "The situation demands we look into all options for ensuring every student that desires a college education is able to obtain one this is not an immigration issue, it is an education issue, an economic issue."

California State University Chancellor Charles Reed has backed Cedillo's legislation.

"Using private monies to keep the door open for students seeking higher education during the economic downturn is smart fiscal policy," Reed said. "California needs highly skilled workers to fill the wave of green tech, engineering, and health-related jobs [that] federal stimulus dollars will produce."

The DREAM Act would serve as a companion law to AB 540, which makes otherwise qualified illegal immigrants eligible for in-state tuition rates at state-supported colleges. AB 540 requires that illegal immigrants seeking in-state tuition at state-colleges first attend a high school in California for three or more years, graduate from high school or obtain an equivalent general education diploma (GED), register or be currently enrolled in a community college or one of the state-supported four-year institutions, and submit to college or university officials a signed statement declaring an intent to seek legal residency as soon as eligible.

Cedillo is currently planning to run for the seat representing the 32nd district in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is expected to be open upon the confirmation of current officeholder Hilda Solis as U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Sam Hassan is a writer for the L.A. Garment & Citizen.

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