AVC students sound off on California Dream Act

LANCASTER – Many students of Antelope Valley College (AVC) Monday said they supported the California Dream Act, which will allow undocumented students who meet certain in-state tuition requirements to apply for and receive financial aid and Cal grants starting January 2013. To be eligible, the students must have gone to a California high school for three or more years and must show that they are in the process of applying for lawful immigration status.

“I feel that giving scholarships to anybody is important and that education is good for all no matter where you come from or how you got here,” Matthew Barabasch said.

Donte Carney agreed.

“Why not?” he said. “They put in three years at a high school and they did well enough to move on to college. I mean it’s supposed to be America, home of the free, right?”

Ashley Mejia said she knows people who want a better life, but because they don’t have the money and are undocumented, they can’t get it.

“Not only do people here have the freedom to get financial aid because they have papers and they were born here, but some of them don’t take advantage of it and they rather just play around with the money,” Mejia said. “People with no papers want to go to school but they can’t because they don’t get money.

Chris Finch said he disagrees with the Dream Act.

“If someone is not a citizen of this country, they shouldn’t be able to have those rights,” Finch said. “Even though they’ve been here for three years, they weren’t here legally.”

Some students were uncertain about the bill. Arielle Manning-Jones said she had one major concern.

“Do you know if they’re held to the same standards?” she asked.

Barbara Bransford said she thinks it would be wise to have a trial period to test if it will work or not.

“I mean if they’re all flunking out of college, it’s not going to be worth it, but if they are making it in college, yes, I think everyone has the right,” Bransford said. “I think there should be statistics kept on how well they do in college.”

Branford added that these standards shouldn’t just be for illegal immigrants.

“I hear stories of people who drop out as soon as they get financial aid,” she said. “I think that should be looked at, too.”

Alejandro Gallo said he was also concerned about students dropping out of school once they got their financial aid money.

“I think it’s fair if they’re just trying to study, but if it’s other things like they’re just trying to get the money and leave then it’s not fair,” Gallo said.

Alicia Aries said she supports the Dream Act, but is worried about how it will affect the rest of the students receiving financial aid.

According to the California Department of Finance, however, an estimated 2,500 additional students will qualify for Cal-Grants as a result of the Dream Act, at a cost of $14.5 million. Because the Cal-Grant program costs $1.4 billion, only about 1 percent  of all Cal-Grant funds could be affected.

Bobby Cole said he was divided on the issue.

“If they’ve already been here for three years, yeah give them a chance, but I really don’t appreciate them,” Cole said.

Cole explained how in the workplace, you have to be bilingual now.

“When I go to get a job now, they ask ‘are you bilingual?’ and I don’t like that,” he added. “I understand melting pot and all that stuff, but I think you got to consider this is built on English. If you don’t know English you can’t get anywhere right?”

Others at AVC said the Dream Act will give undocumented students a better life.

“My general thought is that if they’re here already, I don’t see why it would be a problem,” Josh Gottlieb said. “If people are here already I would rather they be educated than not.”

“Give them a chance because there are a lot of immigrants who migrate from where they come from to make a better life,” Charles Farodolu said.