4:00PM, UC-Berkeley’s California Hall (north of Bancroft + Telegraph, north of Sather Gate)
Students and activists will speak out Thursday at UC-Berkeley demanding that Governor Brown sign the California Dream Act (AB 131) and that the University of California (UC) Regents pass a UC Dream Act. They are organizing demonstrations and a mass petition drive to win these demands.
AB 131, which would extend access to state financial aid to undocumented immigrant students, is expected to be on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk on September 9th. Governor Brown has until October 9th to sign or veto the bill. The UC system, which is autonomous from the state, can adopt a UC-wide Dream Act now and extend UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan and other university-based grants to undocumented immigrant students.
“Governor Brown is threatening to veto AB 131 and betray his promise to tens of thousands of students like me who cannot afford a college education because this state denies us financial aid,” said Maria Belman, a BAMN organizer and undocumented student who has had to withdraw from UC-Berkeley due to lack of financial aid. “We won’t let him do it. BAMN calls for demonstrations statewide to force Governor Brown to sign the Dream Act. Only the new student- and youth-led immigrant rights and civil rights movement can make Governor Brown and the UC Regents keep their promises.”
“Brown’s cited reason why he might veto the bill—the $30 million cost—is only one percent of the state’s financial aid budget of $3.5 billion. This a mere pittance and a small price to pay to extend hope, opportunity and a modicum of equality to California’s talented and deserving undocumented students,” said Yvette Felarca, Northern California coordinator of BAMN. “Undocumented students have been the hardest hit by the barrage of fee hikes that are excluding more and more Latina/o, black and poor students from higher education. The California Dream Act is fair and just.”
“Extending these scholarships to undocumented students would establish the principle that undocumented communities can no longer be asked to contribute huge sums of money to the California economy and specifically to publicly-funded financial aid programs, while being denied access to these programs,” said Tania Kappner, a BAMN organizer. “It would clear the way for undocumented Californians to receive drivers licenses and to finally be in a position to end the inferior, second-class treatment these communities have labored under for too long.
If enacted, AB 131 and a UC Dream Act would give undocumented students the same opportunity as every other California high school graduate to receive state and university financial aid, such as Cal Grants, university-based grants including UC Blue and Gold Opportunity grants, and community college fee waivers.