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The California DREAM Act gains Capitol support

May 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The controversial California DREAM Act, which would give undocumented students the ability to apply for college financial aid, gathered support Wednesday in Sacramento. Also Wednesday, the federal version was introduced for the eleventh time. It's still unclear whether either measure will pass.

DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.

Hoping to seize on the momentum, the National Council of La Raza brought a force of supporters to Sacramento to lobby for the California DREAM Act that passed the Assembly days ago. If the Senate agrees, undocumented students whose parents brought them into the Unites States illegally would gain the ability to apply for college financial aid.

They already qualify for in-state tuition rates if they went to a California high school for at least three years.

"I want to be able to accomplish my goal, which is become a pediatric surgeon, and I can't do it if I don't have help," said Cal State Long Beach freshman Mayra Castillo.

The proposal still divides lawmakers down party lines. Most Republicans believe the DREAM Act rewards illegal behavior. Other opponents think the feds should act, not the state.

Governor Jerry Brown says he supports the principle behind the California DREAM Act and will closely consider it if it reaches his desk. That suggests he just might sign it.

The California DREAM Act, though, may be all supporters get for now.

In Washington, DC, Democrats re-introduced the federal DREAM Act, which gives a path to citizenship to certain undocumented students. President Barack Obama says the U.S. has already invested in their public education, and the nation should start benefitting from it.

"We are fighting to unlock that promise and all that holds, not just for their futures, but for America's future," said Obama.

But the prospect of the DREAM Act's passage through a Republican-controlled House isn't likely; undocumented students may have to settle for the California version.

"But it'll only take us so far. It won't give us freedom. So even after we graduate, we still can't work here," said Maria Luna, an undocumented college graduate.

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