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    CALIFORNIA : Effort to repeal state Dream Act under way

    REGION: San Diego / SW Riverside County, CA

    Effort to repeal state Dream Act under way

    By EDWARD SIFUENTES | Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 6:00 pm | (23) Comments

    The fight over the California Dream Act, controversial legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to help illegal immigrant students pay for college, is not over.

    Earlier this week, State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, started gathering signatures for a referendum that would eliminate part of the act. He wants to overturn Assembly Bill 131, which Brown signed on Oct. 9 allowing illegal immigrant students to apply for state-funded scholarships.

    Local immigrant rights advocates say they plan to defend the Dream Act.

    "It's taken us years to pass the Dream Act and it's a little bit scary to think that it could be taken away," said Nidia Ramirez, a North County immigrant rights activist and college student. "But we will do our best to make sure it stays in place."

    Pedro Rios, San Diego director for the American Friends Service Committee, said immigrant rights groups were scheduled to meet Wednesday night in Los Angeles to discuss how to defend the Dream Act.

    On Tuesday, Donnelly said he started collecting the nearly 505,000 signatures he will need to qualify the referendum for the November 2012 ballot. He said the Dream Act, which takes effect in January, would create an incentive for more illegal immigrants to come to California.

    "This is a really, really bad idea," Donnelly said. "At a time when we're broke, when we have 2 million people unemployed, when state colleges are underfunded and overbooked, we're creating a brand-new entitlement."

    The California Dream Act was a two-bill proposal by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, made up of Assembly Bill 130, which allows illegal immigrant students to access privately funded scholarships administered by state colleges, and AB 131, which allows those students to access state-funded scholarships.

    The referendum proposed by Donnelly targets only the second half of the Dream Act, the part that uses state money.

    The California Dream Act does not provide a path to citizenship, unlike a federal proposal also called the Dream Act, which would offer illegal immigrant college students and those who serve in the military a chance to become U.S. citizens.

    Proponents said that the California Dream Act would give illegal immigrant students, many of whom were brought here by their parents as children and who have studied in public high schools, an opportunity to become productive members of society.

    Rios said Donnelly's effort is likely to fail.

    "It represents a frustrated effort by those who believe that qualified immigrant students should not have access to a college education, and I don't think it will get very far," Rios said.

    Ramirez, the college student, said she is waiting to see what comes out of the Los Angeles meeting before organizing against the referendum in North County.

    To qualify the referendum, Donnelly must collect the 505,000 signatures by Jan. 6. Donnelly said that based on the number of calls his office has been getting, he believes he can gather the signatures on time.

    "This really struck a nerve," he said.

    Donnelly said he recently finished printing the petitions and has begun mailing them to different volunteer organizations to start gathering signatures, including Republican Party and tea party organizations around the state. He also set up a committee to begin collecting money to fund the effort, which he said will be driven primarily by "small donors."


    Contact staff writer Edward Sifuentes at 760-740-3511 ... z1bzCRhd

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    Duplicate post Please make comments at original thread ... california

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