Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday granted illegal immigrants access to state financial aid at public universities and community colleges
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Beginning in 2013, illegal immigrants accepted by state universities may receive assistance from Cal-Grants, a public program that last year provided aid to more than 370,000 low-income students. The new law also makes students who are not legally in the country eligible for institutional grants while attending the University of California and California State University systems. And it permits them to obtain fee waivers in the community college system. Students must graduate from a California high school after attending school in the state for at least three years and must affirm that they are in the process of applying to legalize their immigration status. They also must show financial need and meet academic standards.
My first reaction is that what doe it mean to “affirm that they are in the process of applying to legalize their immigration status?” What does this statement mean? Is this a statement of intent to immigrate, or would a student need to have some form of pending application with USCIS? To Answer this question you have to look at AB 131. The relevant portion states the following: “…In the case of a student without lawful immigration status, the filing of an affidavit with the campus of the California State University or the community college district that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.” Different students, of course, may have different time frames for when, if ever, they will become eligible to file such an application. You wonder what purpose would the signing of such an affidavit serve. To me, it would seem that most undocumented immigrants would file to legalize status as soon as an opportunity arises. Would a person choose to prolong undocumented status if he has an immediately available option to legalize?
The governor’s actions came while Congress is gridlocked over immigration reform and followed efforts by other states, including Arizona, Georgia and Alabama, to tighten laws on illegal immigration. But in 2001, Texas Gov. Rick Perry allowed undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public universities. And earlier this year, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn approved private financial aid for undocumented students and allowed them to enroll in state tuition savings programs. “There’s division of opinion among the states about what to do about immigration,” said Kevin Johnson, dean of UC Davis School of Law. “We will continue to get these types of differences until Congress comes up with some kind of federal immigration reform and starts to answer some of those questions in a national, as opposed to a state, way.” LA TIMES