CA Dream Act

Jerry Brown did something admirable this weekend when he signed the “California Dream Act” into law.

The new law will allow undocumented youth to receive state-based financial aid in California. The bill also further protects their right to attend public universities. Coupled with previous legislation allowing undocumented youth the possibility of qualifying as in-state residents, the governor’s move this weekend made the playing field between undocumented youth who grew up in CA and youth born and raised in the state just a little more equal.

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Unlike the federal “DREAM Act” this bill does nothing to provide a pathway toward legalization for the millions of undocumented youth who grew up in the United States. However, like it’s federal counterpart, the bill is focused on educational access, equity, and decency.

The basic decency of the law lies in the fact that these youth–whether or not they are citizen residents or “legal permanent residents” of CA–are Californians. Most spent nearly their entire lives here. Almost all are products of our schools and participants in our larger society.

They are also taxpayers and the children of taxpayers. The vast majority of undocumented residents pay taxes (local, state, and federal) though they do not have the ability to benefit from those taxes the ways that you or I do. Gov. Brown and the Dream supporters recognized the fundamental unfairness of a higher system that forces undocumented workers and their families to support it in numerous ways (like sharing the tax burden) but then treats them as foreigners in how they are admitted, charged, and supported.

I’ve spent too much of my weekend reading the misinformed and racially-based critics of the governor’s decision. They are hypocrites, at best, and racists at worst.

If they are anything they are ignorant. They don’t understand basic realities guiding the policy, or the basic realities of life for the undocumented. They have a narrow view of the migration process as a “choice” made by an individual, and usually view that individual as a criminal.

They live in a world shaped by the suffering and abuse of the undocumented, they economically benefit from that suffering, and they even promote and defend it in both intentional and unintentional ways. And, yet, when their cherished political ideals are actually embodied in our government in a more perfect and genuine way, they back away and hide in the safety of their ancient rhetoric of fear.

There can be no democracy without educational equity and equality of access. There can be no democracy in CA without some meaningful way for the masses of undocumented to become as integrated in our social and political worlds as they are in our economic.

This weekend CA opened up the possibility of becoming a more democratic state. We all will benefit from that.

3 thoughts on “CA Dream Act

  1. Well said, Tomas. It’s a sobering fact that every piece of legislation that has advanced human decency and the ideals of this nation have been opposed by people who callously benefit from inequality. Whether it’s child labor laws, the vote for women or Civil Rights, the selfish and the ignorant have always resisted human progress. The critics of the DREAM Act are part of a long tradition. Let’s be thankful the tradition of progress in the human spirit has proven more enduring — and continue to press for a federal DREAM Act.

  2. “Whether it’s child labor laws, the vote for women or Civil Rights, the selfish and the ignorant have always resisted human progress.”

    So true, Raul. I’ve been so dismayed to see how many Latinos are also part of those ranks in our local communities here in Southern California. I hope it is better where you are. Let’s hope struggle and time moves us forward on this issue.

  3. Why do Mexicans think they deserve this? Illegal, and treated like an IN-STATE RESIDENT- how about LEGAL CITIZENS FROM OUTSIDE THE STATE- how about them? Special privileges for Beaners

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