By 2025, California will have a deficit of 1 million college-educated workers, which it needs to support its economy. The retirement and aging of baby boomers, and demographic shifts toward a population-Latinos-with lower graduation rates are all part of this problem.
The state must encourage all students who are driven enough to reach the college level, in an environment where many drop out of school, to continue their education. The second part of the California Dream Act, AB 131, is a relatively minor investment estimated to cost between $2540 million. Equaling 1% of the total budget, it will provide Cal Grants to undocumented students who meet a series of requirements. However, it has enormous potential.
This measure won’t only allow young people who are having a hard time getting an education to receive the help they deserve. It will also motivate others who are now hopeless to make an effort to achieve. As requested by Governor Jerry Brown, the bill includes provisions to ensure qualifying citizens or legal residents won’t be denied scholarships in order to provide them to undocumented students. The reality is that the California of the future will need all its brains, and the effort and enthusiasm of these students is often extremely surprising and moving.
We do not think a generation should be abandoned because right now it seems difficult, almost impossible, for them to obtain legalization in this country. Human beings are not disposable. A majority of these young people come from families that, although undocumented, have greatly contributed to local and state economies, pay taxes, are consumers and produce wealth for society.
We urge Governor Brown to sign the second part of the California Dream Act, AB 131-for the state’s future.