California Dream Act Resources

11/22/2011
CA DREAM Network & CHIRLA

Dear friends,

As we all continue to celebrate and seek to uphold the historic signing of AB 131, we wish to extend an additional thank you to all of the organizations and community leaders around the state who helped make this victory possible.

Please note that we've expanded Tuesday's memo re: Upholding the CA DREAM Act to include contact information for two additional resources, the California DREAM Network and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

We hope these resources will be of use to you in your local efforts to support the California DREAM Act.

UPHOLDING THE CALIFORNIA DREAM ACT

Informational memo for immigrant advocates - November 8, 2011

On October 8, 2011, Governor Brown signed the second half of the California DREAM Act (AB 131), declaring that  "...The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us." This historic victory for equal access to higher education came after a decade of powerful student organizing across the state.

However, on the heels of the bill’s signing, an anti-immigrant legislator announced an effort to repeal AB 131 by way of a voter referendum. To place this divisive measure on the ballot, opponents have several hurdles, and must gather a very large quantity of signatures and cash in a short amount of time.

Immigrant rights groups from around the state are closely monitoring the referendum’s progress.

This informational memo provides background information about the California DREAM Act, the referendum process, suggested talking points, and other resources. This memo was prepared by the California Immigrant Policy Center and Dream Team Los Angeles in partnership with the Dream Resource Center. (We note that numerous organizations around the state are working together to monitor the referendum and support AB 131.) We encourage advocates to promote the California DREAM Act’s positive impact on all Californians in conversations, social media, and beyond.

1. The referendum process

On October 21, 2011, the Secretary of State’s office announced that opponents of AB 131 - the California Dream Act - could begin collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn the measure. Led by Assemblymember Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), opponents must gather 504,760 signatures by January 6, 2012 to quality for the ballot. Gathering signatures in a short period of time is a costly process. We believe it will take more than Donnelly’s hope for a volunteer-led effort for opponents to meet their goal.

For more information, visit the Secretary of State’s website here.

We encourage organizations and supporters to continue positive promotion on AB 131 - whether by talking to reporters who are covering the bill’s progress or commenting on favorable articles. We also believe in the importance of reaching out to Spanish-language and other sympathetic ethnic media outlets to continue the momentum of support for this important legislation.

2. What does AB 131 do?

AB 131 builds on previous legislative victories for undocumented students in California.

  • AB 540 was passed in 2001 and allows qualifying students to pay in-state tuition instead of higher out-of-state fees. More information on  AB 540: http://ab540.com/
  • AB 130 was passed on July 25, 2011 and goes into effect on January 1, 2012. It gives California public colleges and universities the opportunity to allow undocumented students who qualify for AB 540 to apply and compete for scholarship awards. These include scholarships funded through private donors, alumni contributions or individual departmental efforts.

AB 131 specifically allows AB 540-eligible students to participate in state-funded financial aid programs such as Cal Grants, institutional aid such as that funded by tuition revenue, and the Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver for community college students. AB 131 is slated to take effect on January 1, 2013. The California Student Aid Commission has been charged with developing an application process for this new group of eligible students since undocumented students are not eligible to apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

3. Suggested talking points

This is a preliminary version of suggested public talking points which may help communicate the California Dream Act’s positive impact on the state.

The CA DREAM Act is an investment in our state’s economy

  • The California DREAM Act will help nurture the next generation of doctors, scientists, architects, and scholars who are crucial to the success of the California economy.
  • Our state faces a deficit of one million college-educated workers by 2025. [Source: PPIC] AB 131 is a smart, responsible investment in our future.
  • Meeting the urgent demand for a skilled, educated workforce will create more prosperity for all Californians.

Helping students achieve their dreams helps all Californians

  • The California DREAM Act gives bright, dedicated students a chance to earn an education, which will help them further participate and contribute to our state’s economy.
  • These students are Californians in all but paperwork – they grew up here and are part of the fabric of our communities.
  • Undocumented youth come from tax-paying families that contribute greatly to our state. In fact, households headed by undocumented immigrants in California paid $2.7 billion in state and local taxes paid in 2010. [Source: The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy]

This is about expanding opportunity for everyone

  • The California Dream Act will give all students an equal opportunity to access existing resources they already contribute to through University fees and taxes.
  • This is an extremely diverse group of students. In the University of California system, about 70% of the students who qualify under the California DREAM Act are US citizens or Legal Permanent residents of other states. At UC, the largest group of eligible students is Asian-American. [Source: UC Office of the President report- see pages 3, 12]
  • It’s important to know that estimates from the CA Dept. of Finance show only 1% of all Cal Grant funds would potentially go to Dream Act students. [Source: Office of Gov. Brown]

4. Additional background information:

  • A majority of Americans support the national DREAM Act. A June 2010 First Focus Poll reported that 70% of Americans favor the DREAM Act.
  • Moreover, 69% of Americans agreed that states should have the ability to determine whether to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students residing in their state.
  • A November 2010 Los Angeles Times/USC poll found that “Majority of California Voters support path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants.
  • Specifically, three-quarters of California voters support granting citizenship to DREAM Act students.
  • Over the last 15 years, about seven proposed anti-immigrant measures have failed to qualify for the California ballot in 1995, 1996, 2005, 2006 (2 initiatives), 2007, and 2010. Initiatives and repeals are slightly different, but this is significant nonetheless.

5. Select Articles on the California Dream Act:

6. Connect with local undocumented youth organizers

From AB 540 to AB 131, undocumented students have been at the forefront of organizing their local communities and empowering fellow undocumented youth to pursue their dreams of achieving higher education. Their use of personal testimonies as a political tool has enabled many youth to effectively mobilize across the state. We recommend connecting to a local immigrant youth group and work together towards educating our local communities about how to access the benefits provided by AB 540/AB 130/ AB 131 and furthermore, use the powerful testimony of youth to help dispel myths about the immigrant experience in California.

7. About Tim Donnelly

Assemblymember Tim Donnelly was elected into office in 2010 under the banner “Send a Minuteman to Sacramento.” Many of his bills have targeted immigrants and low-income families, including an Arizona copycat measure he introduced in early December last year.

Out of the 16 bills Donnelly introduced, 15 failed or did not progress in the legislative process. To the contrary, the California Dream Act has garnered broad support from Businesses, Labor, and Educational institutions. It is clear that Donnelly’s anti-immigrant measures are out of touch with most Californians.

8. Moving forward

Let’s continue to show the rest of our nation that California believes in a better way than targeting vulnerable communities that contribute to our economic and social well-being. We can demonstrate continued support for the California Dream Act through positive messaging and keeping informed on advancing this crucial legislation. Below are some ways to help bring a positive light to the California Dream Act:

  • Post positive and respectful comments on news articles related to the bill.
  • If efforts to gather signatures appear in your community or campus, educate members of the community on the real facts of the California Dream Act. Hold an educational session or event.
  • Remind people through your social networks what the California Dream Act means for you and for the state of California. Ask them to let others know on the benefits of the bill.
  • When doing interviews and asked about the campaign to repeal the bill, use the talking points provided above as a guide.
  • If you engage in a conversation with people that are either against the California Dream Act or on the fence, be respectful and provide the accurate facts. Remember that many times people that are against it might be so because of a  lack of information.
  • Your story is the most powerful tool; don’t be afraid to show others the importance of an education for all.

For more information contact:

Fabiola Inzunza: fabiola.inzunza@gmail.com
Dream Team Los Angeles Policy Lead and Dream Resource Center Coordinator

Carlos Amador: ca.amadorlara@gmail.com
Dream Team Los Angeles Community Engagement and Outreach Lead and Dream Resource Center Lead Coordinator

California Immigrant Policy Center: info@caimmigrant.org (general inquiries)

Jon Rodney: jrodney@caimmigrant.org (messaging & communications inquiries)
Communications Project Coordinator, California Immigrant Policy Center

Myrna Ortiz: mortiz@chirla.org
CHIRLA Statewide Organizer, California DREAM Network

Joseph Villela: jvillela@chirla.org
Senior Policy Advocate, Statewide Policy

CHIRLA Materials:
CA DREAM Act One Pager Flyer
Making California's Higher Education Accessible