There is a very important bill sitting on Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk -- one that is exemplary of the society we want to create. Do we want a society where it's every man for himself, or do we want one that recognizes our shared humanity, and helps open up opportunity for everyone? The DREAM Act can be made law in California if the Governor signs it by Oct. 14. A student leader coalition is being supported by a broad cross-section of community, faith and labor groups, urging the Gov. to do the right thing. A low-tech letter-writing campaign has been going on for a month, but thanks to our friends at the Courage Campaign there is now an online petition. Please add your name, but don't stop there -- help us spread the word:
Students will deliver the petition, with signatures, to the Governor. Please sign now! More on the flip...
What is the California DREAM Act? From the Courage email:
If the Governor signs it, the DREAM Act (SB 1, authored by State Sen. Gil Cedillo) will strengthen the state's workforce and energize California's economy by allowing qualified undocumented immigrant students -- who grew up in California and graduated from our high schools -- to apply for and receive financial aid at our colleges and universities.
Immigration and education are at the heart of the American dream. And yet there is a disconnect in California. California law already requires these kids to attend public school through age 18. Many of these students excel, as is typical of immigrants to this country. But when they graduate, many at the top of their class, they realize that the dream of attaining a college degree is almost impossible without financial aid.
An additional boost came when Sen. Barack Obama came out in favor of this bill and urged the Governor to sign it into law. This move took leadership and courage, and I do think Obama deserves credit from progressives for it. Here is what he said:
"You know our immigration system is truly broken when we punish children who have learned English and worked hard to succeed in school so that they can become American citizens. Enforcement alone will not solve the immigration crisis we face. If Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes the DREAM Act a second time, he will compound the immigration crisis by driving thousands of children who were on the right path into the shadows.
We teach our children that in America, you will thrive if you work hard and dream big. Governor Schwarzenegger now has the chance to demonstrate that instead of blaming one group for the challenges America faces, he can unite Californians and give children who play by the rules the opportunity to succeed."
The DREAM Act -- both in California and the federal law that Obama also supports -- is one of those issues that should not be subject to political games. It's about a basic sense of humanity, decency, and opportunity, and I hope we can show Gov. Schwarzenegger that Californians stand for those basic values.