California lawmakers have attempted to give qualified undocumented immigrants access to state scholarships and grants for five consecutive years. Each time, however, a gubernatorial veto has cut short legislative efforts. Now, Gov. Jerry Brown has the opportunity to break with the past. He should do so by signing AB 131, part of a two-bill package known as the California Dream Act.
The measure would allow illegal immigrants who graduate from a state high school and demonstrate both merit and need to apply for publicly funded scholarships and other state aid. A bill passed last month already allows these deserving students to apply for privately funded scholarships.
Brown the candidate backed the Dream Act, but since taking office he has suggested that the state's current budget woes could persuade him to withdraw his support. That would be a shame. AB 131 isn't a drain on the state's coffers but an investment in its future.
These students were brought here illegally, through no fault of their own. They aren't seeking welfare but rather an opportunity to attend college and contribute to the only home most of them have ever known. California has already invested in these students, most of whom graduated from public schools. Barring such promising young men and women from financial assistance to attend college would only help push them into a permanent underclass.