The California DREAM Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last weekend, will allow illegal immigrants who graduate from high schools in California to apply to the state’s public universities as residents.
It will also consider undocumented students eligible for a reduced tuition rate as long as they prove to be on the path to legalization by applying for lawful immigration or swearing to do so.
The law also affords these students the right to both private loans and public aid to help pay for their education. The DREAM Act is great in theory, but it is not practical or beneficial to our state at this time.
Gov. Brown has undoubtedly been working hard to get the state’s budget deficit under control. The estimated cost of awarding this financial aid under the DREAM Act is $14.3 million.
It is easy to understand what Brown is thinking; according to research by the Congressional Budget Office from 2010, the act has merit because it would reduce our deficit by $2.2 billion in 10 years.
This could be a great asset to our state, but the fact that we still currently do not have money to give even citizen students state financial aid is alarming.
How can we ensure that we are going to take care of the financial burden of undocumented students when we cannot provide financial aid for legal citizens who have a right to claim it?
The greatest argument in favor of the DREAM Act is that we would be wrong to deny financial aid to talented, hardworking students who desperately need it, simply because they are illegal immigrants.
I do not believe that these students should be denied the right to pursue a college education, or even access to financial aid.
However, for the time being, these students should work hard to attain financial aid from other sources, like many citizen students must do.
The argument that without the DREAM Act these students would not receive financial aid is not entirely valid.
If students, whether undocumented or legal citizens, work hard enough to get good grades and search for scholarships, they will likely be rewarded for their merit.
Saying that the DREAM Act should not have been passed is neither prejudiced nor ignorant. Undocumented students should have these privileges, just not right now.
Denial of access to public financial aid and private loans does not discriminate against illegal immigrants or take away a fundamental right.
Without the DREAM Act, it is true that most undocumented students will struggle with the financial burdens of college. Yet citizen students in California are already facing this struggle.
It is true that the DREAM Act may help eventually reduce our budget deficit.
However, it will not help us right now, and we need to focus on the present.
School districts throughout the state have endured unyielding waves of budget cuts. Current citizen students already struggle to find means to pay for college and those who cannot pay often have to drop out.
These are issues that must be addressed, and should have been addressed before Gov. Brown signed the DREAM Act into law.
The $14.3 million does not seem like a lot of money to spend in order to bring in the $2.2 billion that will help reduce the deficit.
However, to those of us who have endured budget cuts in our schooling and still have to work hard to find other scholarships since we were denied state assistance, that $14.3 million has more pressing uses at the moment.
Lauren Creiman, a sophomore journalism major, is news editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.