“Signing the DREAM Act is another piece of investment in people,” he continued, “because people are what drive the culture of the economy in our country.”Although elated, members of the California Dream Network that reaches more than 20,000 undocumented students in 42 campuses said they will not celebrate until the entire bill is turned into law. Under the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) AB130, undocumented students attending California State University, California community colleges or the University of California will be eligible, on or after Jan. 1, 2012, to receive scholarships from private funds donated to schools. Currently, this segment of the student population is not eligible for any kind of financial aid.AB131 would allow undocumented students to apply or participate in any financial aid program administered by the State of California to the full extent permitted by federal law. The bill is currently under suspension in the state Senate, and students fear that it “will die along with the dreams of the 25,000 undocumented youth that graduate every year from state high schools.”The governor admitted that legislators are dealing with obstacles along the way and described AB130 as “one piece of a very important mosaic, which is a California that works for everyone.“We are facing many obstacles and many adversaries,” he declared. “There are people who think California can grow by shrinking education and that’s the debate in our state Capitol. “The debate is very clear: shrivel public service, shrink back, retrench, retreat from higher education, from schools, from investment in people; or make the investment.“Our future is not only where the power or the wealth is,” he said. “It’s in the minds of people. Yes, it’s in the gold, it’s in the oil, it’s in the soil and all that, but it only takes the brains, the bodies, and the spirits of human beings.”“Our future is uncertain if we neglect those children,” the governor continued, “but it’s absolutely abundant if we invest in their education, their childcare, their future and their neighborhoods.”According to Brown, 50 percent of the babies born in California are born under the Medi-Cal program designed for low-income families.Assemblyman Gilbert “Gil” Cedillo, who first introduced the California Dream Act in 2006 and authored AB130 and 131 early this year, praised Brown for “being a man of his word.” “You’ve had some great days as a governor, but I think this is maybe one of those days that you’ve already set a milestone,” he told the governor.Describing it as a “long journey,” Cedillo said the effort was worthwhile.“This is about the children,” he said. “This is about us parents and all the hopes we have for our children.” He reminisced about a conversation with his mother that helped shape his concept of education.“She talked about what a dignified person was and what an educated person was,” he said. “Education is for life,” his mother told him, a phrase he uses when undocumented students have doubts about pursuing higher education.He thanked the students for inspiring him and giving him “new energy to do this.”“With the limited resources that you have, you have developed unlimited creativity and imagination and today you have unlimited opportunities,” he said.Speaking on behalf of the thousands of undocumented students, UCLA alumna Ana Gomez shared how she fulfilled her “dream” despite taking a two-hour bus ride and working full time during four years. “It was a nightmare,” Gomez, 25, told The Tidings. In 2009 she earned a double major in history and political science. “Today you are giving testament of the importance of education, the value of hard work, dedication and excellence regardless of immigration status,” she remarked. Gomez arrived in Los Angeles from Mexico when she was seven years old. She grew up knowing she was undocumented, but excelled in school regardless, following the steps of her oldest sister, also undocumented, who recently earned a master’s degree in architecture from UCLA. “Feliz!” exclaimed Claretian Father Richard Estrada when asked about his viewpoint. “Too bad this has been so complicated and so troublesome,” he said. “Sometimes lawmakers don’t really have trust in their future; students who are the next lawyers, doctors and civic leaders.“Our church needs to be here too. We need to be here with them,” said Father Estrada, who has supported undocumented students since the DREAM Act was first introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2001.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0729/dream/{/gallery}