The Dream Act Controversy: An Ethnic Divide

A recent poll of California voters provides an interesting snap shot on public perception on the Dream Act. There is a major ethnic divide. The L.A. Times reports “Among Latinos, 79% support government financial aid for illegal immigrants who attend state universities, compared with 30% of whites.”

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California DREAM Act which allows children who were brought to the United States illegally as minors and graduate from a California high school, to obtain in-state tuition. It also allows them to apply for state financial aid benefits. Brown’s approval of the bill, passed by the state legislature, fulfills a campaign promise to allow high-achieving California students who want to become U.S. citizens the opportunity to obtain a college education, regardless of their immigration status.

The poll found that most Californians are concerned of rising cost of the state’s public university system and are worried of being “priced out.” Given tough economic times and rising higher education cost, the poll found that many voters object to allowing illegal immigrants the same financial aid that U.S. citizens can receive at the campuses. According to the L.A. Times:

“Fifty-five percent of the voters questioned said they oppose a new state law known as the California DREAM Act. It will permit undocumented students who graduated from California high schools and meet other requirements to receive taxpayer aid to attend the University of California, Cal State and community colleges starting in 2013. Forty percent support it.

But there is a huge ethnic divide on the issue, according to theUSC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey: 79% of Latinos approve of the law, while only 30% of whites do.

“There are not a lot of other issues on which there are such huge differences,” said Manuel Pastor, a USC professor of American studies and ethnicity….

But there are pocketbook factors too, especially in rough economic times, said Pastor, director of USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. The poll shows that more Latinos than whites feel they may be unable to afford a university education; they may be more likely to support aid for all needy students, he said.

The bipartisan survey found that a narrow majority of registered Democrats, 53%, support the new policy, which was signed into law last month by a fellow Democrat, Gov. Jerry Brown. But only 23% of Republicans do…”

Read the full article here

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