Gov. Jerry Brown recently rendered judgment on the 563 bills the Legislature sent to him last month. He vetoed some minor bills citing budget costs and the fact that “not every human problem deserves a law,” but it was ironic that he signed one of the most consequential and costly bills this year – Assembly Bill 131.
Starting in 2013, this new law grants illegal immigrants access to publicly funded state aid at California’s public colleges and universities. It absolutely sends the wrong message to illegal immigrants, potential illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.
In essence, A.B. 131 says, “If you ignore our immigration laws, it’s OK.” I have no doubt that this new law will encourage additional illegal immigration. If they can avoid being caught at the border, they too can enjoy free public money, paid for by hard-working legal citizens.
It is unacceptable that our law-abiding citizens’ tax dollars are subsidizing the education of those here illegally, especially when many of these citizens are struggling to send their own family members to college. Rewarding illegal immigration at the expense of those here legally is reckless public policy.
When A.B. 131 came before the Assembly earlier this year, I strongly opposed it for a number of reasons. One reason was that the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, put higher education on the budget chopping block and cut $1.3 billion from the University of California and California State University systems. Democrats also called for higher taxes because they said they were needed to preserve essential services.
I asked, “If that was the case, why pursue A.B. 131 at all?” A state Senate analysis predicted it would cost taxpayers $40 million a year to give free college money to illegal immigrants. Is that $40 million going to come from higher taxes? Additionally, higher education tuition rose significantly over the years, making it harder for legal students to stay in school.
Finally, how can any company hire an illegal immigrant, whose college is now paid at taxpayer expense, when it is against the law to hire illegal immigrants? Besides, we would do a tremendous injustice to those who became naturalized citizens through our legal channels. Legal immigrants believe in the rule of law, yet we are now saying to them that their efforts will not be acknowledged and will be treated no differently than those who take “cuts in line.”
Although A.B. 131 is now law, taxpayers outraged by this display of liberal activism will have an opportunity to overturn it. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has initiated a referendum to overturn the California DREAM Act and I support his referendum. To qualify the referendum to go before voters, Donnelly, you and I must collect just shy of 505,000 valid voter signatures before Jan. 6. I will gladly mail you a petition if you send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am working hard to repeal A.B. 131 and other efforts to give illegal immigrants more public benefits. If and when Gov. Brown resumes his crusade to raise our taxes again, we should demand that he first cut spending we cannot afford – beginning with A.B. 131.