California could soon mandate colleges provide services to illegals

The bill’s author claims California “must do more to help undocumented students navigate through the higher education system.”

AB 1645 would mandate a “Dreamer Resource Liaison” and encourage a “Dream Resource Center."

A bill currently making its way through the California state Senate would require each campus that is part of the California Community Colleges or California State Universities to ensure that it has a designated Dreamer Resource Liaison on staff who is knowledgeable in available financial services, social services, state-funded immigration legal services, and academic opportunities for illegal immigrant students. 

The bill would encourage each campus that is part of the University of California system to do the same. AB 1645, introduced by Democrat Assemblymembers Blanca Rubio and Eloise Reyes, recently passed the State Assembly and is moving through the Senate. 

It significantly expands the scope of California’s AB 540, from legal residents to illegal students.

Under the bill these colleges would have to make available a Dreamer Resource Liaison who provides certain services, such as state and institutional financial aid assistance, academic counseling, peer support services, psychological counseling, referral for social services, and state-funded immigration legal services for illegal alien students. The bill would encourage the colleges to provide these services in Dream Resource Centers. 

Related: Immigration experts: In-state tuition for illegal aliens violates Clinton-era federal law

Compliance would cost the state more than $5 million annually, as stated in an Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis. The report indicated that costs would largely be concentrated in community colleges. 

According to a Senate Education committee report, this isn’t the first time legislation like this has been passed. Since 2015, six similar bills were introduced, with two (AB 2477 and AB 2009) receiving a veto from former Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown. 

“[A]ll of our higher education institutions ought to be well-versed in the rights and opportunities available to undocumented students.” Brown stated when vetoing the earlier bills. “I further called on our system higher education leaders to ensure that relevant campus personnel can ably fulfill these duties. UC and CSU have complied by either creating designated physical spaces on campus called Dream Resource Centers, or provided such information through existing student support programs. This bill is not necessary.”

The same committee report found that all the UC’s, all but four CSU’s, and many community colleges already operated similar programs. 

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“Since the implementation of the California Dream Act, access and affordability to higher education is now attainable for our undocumented student population.” California Democrat assembly member and co-author of the bill, Blanca Rubio, said in a statement to Campus Reform

“We must do more to help undocumented students navigate through the higher education system, especially since there is no end in sight to the Federal Administration’s constant threats to DACA. Undocumented student centers and staff play a critical role at our college and university campuses as immigration policies rapidly shift at the federal level,” Rubio added. 

“Establishing an institutionalized Dreamer Resource Liaison on California colleges and universities will provide Dreamers with adequate educational support, guidance of state-funded legal services, and on-campus protection policies,” she continued. 

Reyes, who co-authored the bill, and state Sen. Ling Ling Chang (R) did not respond in time for publication.

Sen. Phillip Chen, a Republican, declined to comment. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @arik_schneider