California Legislature to Expand Illegal Alien Benefits
Dream Act Would Allow Access to Financial Aid, Grants Unless Vetoed by Governor
(Washington, D.C. September 24, 2010) Nearly three months into the fiscal year, the California legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger are finalizing a budget agreement that calls for massive cuts in state programs to close the state's projected $19 billion budget gap. While most Californians will be feeling the pain — and lots of it — the California legislature not only spared, but expanded benefits to at least one political interest in the state: Illegal aliens.
Senate Bill 1460 and Assembly Bill 1413, collectively-referred to as the California DREAM Act, were approved by the legislature and are headed to Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk. By some estimates, these bills could provide over $38 million in state benefits to help illegal aliens attend California colleges and universities. This assistance comes on top of an estimated $88 million a year California taxpayers continue to provide to illegal aliens in the form of in-state tuition benefits, despite the fact that a state appeals court has ruled the policy unconstitutional.
If Gov. Schwarzenegger signs the California DREAM Act before the Sept. 30 deadline, illegal aliens would be eligible to receive taxpayer funded grants and assistance to offset the ever increasing costs of attending public colleges and universities in California. The bill also expands the definition of who is eligible to receive in-state tuition subsidies. Currently, students must have attended three years of high school in California to qualify. Under SB 1460, anyone who completes three years of secondary school, and earns a degree, in California is eligible for in-state tuition. Secondary schools include trade and adult schools.
"The California legislature continues to demonstrate its contempt for law-abiding, taxpaying Californians," charged Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "As they put the final touches on a budget that cuts vital services and programs, illegal aliens get new rewards.
"The California college and university system once the crown jewel of America's public higher education system has been forced to cut admissions and programs, while dramatically increasing tuition and student fees in recent years. While countless deserving students, who are legal U.S. residents, are being left out in the cold because admissions have been cut, or because they cannot afford the rising tuitions, the legislature is approving new benefits to illegal aliens," said Stein.
Gov. Schwarzenegger refused to sign almost identical legislation in 2008. At the time, the governor stated, "[G]iven the precarious fiscal condition the state faces at this time, it would not be prudent to place additional demands on our limited financial aid resources as specified in this bill."
"California's fiscal condition has only grown more precarious since 2008," noted Stein. We call upon Gov. Schwarzenegger to once again act as a check on a reckless and irresponsible legislature that continues to provide benefits to illegal aliens as it inflicts pain on everyone else in the state. Fiscal responsibility, not to mention basic respect for the people of California, requires that the governor veto SB 1460," Stein concluded.
Some basic facts about illegal immigration and California higher education:
- During the last fiscal year, the California State University system's budget was cut by $564 million.
- As a result of budget cuts, admissions to the 23 California State universities were reduced by 40,000 students. (One-time federal stimulus money will allow 10,000 of those seats to be restored.)
- The average in-state tuition at a Cal State school is now $5,000 per year. As recently as the 2000-01 academic year, tuition cost $1,800.
- The average in-state tuition at the ten University of California schools is $11,285 per year. Books, supplies, insurance and other requirements bring the cost to $16,470. Room and board for non-commuting students increases the cost to $29,450.
- California already spends nearly $21.8 billion on all programs and services for illegal aliens and their families an amount greater than the state's $19 billion projected budget shortfall.