California Dream Act Signed: Will Granting Undocumented Immigrants Access to Public Funds Hurt African Americans?

The largest state in the nation, California, just dealt a blow to anti-immigrant proponents and potentially African Americans.  The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed “The Dream Act” on Saturday, granting undocumented immigrants access to state-funded financial aid for college.  It’s the highest profile piece of legislation to expand undocumented students’ access to higher education and public funding.

“The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us,” Governor Brown said.

The federal government made an attempt at instituting a similar act last year, but congressional members were apathetic towards the controversial bill and it was abandoned.

Under California’s current law, if an undocumented student graduates from a California high school and affirms that they’re in the process of applying for legal immigration status, they qualify for resident tuition rates.  The Dream Act builds on this by making that same caliber of student eligible for state-funded Cal Grants and other public aid.  California tax payers are now on the hook no matter where they stand on the subject.

California being the largest state in the nation and having the largest population of undocumented residents makes passing of the bill significant.  It could be a catalyst for similar efforts across the country.  But with states being strapped for cash and consequently choosing to shrink budgets for college grants, African Americans, the largest group of beneficiaries of such programs, could be affected disproportionately if you factor in illegal immigrants.

Should tax payer funds be used to support the illegal immigrant population and would the fear be legitimate that low-income, aspiring black college students would be dealt a devastating blow in securing funding if like legislation spreads across the country?

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