California's DREAM Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown, allows undocumented immigrant students who have graduated from a California high school and can prove they're on the path to legalize their immigration status to apply for state aid to pay for their tuition fees, writes Fox News.
The contentious second half of the package, that Brown has now signed, states that eligible immigrant students only qualify for financial aid after all the other legal residents have applied.
"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking. The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us," said Governor Brown in a statement.
Critics of the bill say it undermines immigration laws and encourages undocumented immigration by granting access to state resources reserved for legal residents, writes Fox News. Some Republican lawmakers say, in light of recent budget cuts to higher education, that legal students have had their grants cut. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, said the bill's passage will the biggest mistake the Democratic Party makes.
"The polling indicates that 80 to 90 percent of Californians are against this, and it crosses party lines," Donnelly said.
"It is absolutely, fundamentally wrong and unfair and it is an insult to people who have worked and played by the rules, including those who have come to this country legally."
The state Department of Finance estimates that 1 percent of all Cal Grant funds, the state's student financial aid program, will be affected by the legislative package when it goes into effect in January 2013. The department says that 2,500 students would qualify for aid under the bill and estimates the costs to equal $14.5 million of a $1.4 billion program, says the office of Gov. Brown.