Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to stop it. But with a Democrat asthe new U.S. Governor of California times change. Jerry Brownsigned off a controversial law allowing students who are childrenof illegal immigrants to receive financial support from privatelyfunded scholarships. In most states, such students find themselvesin a gray zone, neither able to receive financial aid nor workingpermits after graduation.
Opening up funding to them was a primary promise Brown made tothe Latino community of California who swept him into office half ayear ago. For now, publicly funded aid is still not accessible forundocumented college students. Brown, however, stated that “oncesuch a law gets to [his] desk” he would be inclined to supportit.
“At the end of the day, if we’re going to continue as apowerful, equal-opportunity society, we’re going to have to investin our people,” the Democrat Governor stated when he signed thebill into law.
Illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. mostly work as cleaningpersonnel, construction workers or restaurant waiters. Having inmind a better future for their children, they send them to publicschools for which they do not need a social security number. Thiscontinues until college graduation unless they want to apply forfinancial aid to finance their studies.
From Financial Support to Legal Status
Simply offering financial support, consequently, appears to beonly the first step towards integrating undocumented collegestudents. Giving them complete legal status is a demand especiallyvoiced by the Hispanic and Latino community which represents thefastest growing minority in the U.S. with a current populationshare of 15%.
In 2008, Obama stated his support for giving complete legalstatus to illegal immigrants if they served in the military or wentto college. Once in office, however, the reform of the financialand health sector as well as an ailing economy had priority overimmigration issues. Even more, Obama tried to appease Republican onother issues by deporting one million illegal immigrants since hebecame President.
Finally, a federal bill called Dream Act was presented to theU.S. Congress and Senate that would allow illegal immigrants toreceive American citizenship if they had stayed for 5 years in thecountry and either went to college or served in the military.Congress passed the bill, but Senate majority leader Harry Reid(Democrats) stalled any further actions on the law.
Republicans who by now have a majority in Congress oppose theDream Act. In times of crisis, financial support would be rare forU.S. students and they should not be forced to compete with illegalimmigrants. How Obama will respond to this is not clear yet. Thepresidential elections are coming up next year and in 2008 Obamareceived significant support from the Latino community by a marginof 2 to 1.