Sen. Richard Lara, education leaders praise investments in legal help for immigrant students

SACRAMENTO – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) joined education leaders to praise budget investments that support immigrant students in California’s public colleges and universities.

The budget includes $21 million in funding for the University of California, California State University, and the California Community Colleges to provide legal services for undocumented and immigrant students.

“California has opened the door of education to immigrant students, but the federal administration’s hostility toward undocumented communities is spilling into our classrooms and affecting the future of our state. It is more important than ever that California step up and support our Dreamers both inside and outside of the classroom.” – Senator Ricardo Lara

“With this budget and the support it will provide to immigrant students who find themselves in need of legal services, California leaders continue their unwavering commitment to the proposition that our state is stronger when all students, regardless of their background, have an opportunity to pursue their educational goals and contribute in positive ways to our society. These resources are welcome and will be put to good use for some of our most vulnerable students.” – California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley

“The CSU is constantly striving to create inclusive environments. Unfortunately, uncertainty at the federal level continues to cause anxiety on our campuses. I am greatly appreciative that this funding will provide an additional measure of support for CSU students and staff as we advocate for a more permanent solution.” – California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White

“California has done a model job of attracting and retaining immigrant students to its three higher education segments. The recession of DACA and the aggressive anti-immigrant policies of the federal government has put the dreams of those students at risk. With this funding we will be able to find legal protections for them and ensure that they are able to live up to the California promise and contribute to our state.” – Maria Blanco, executive director of the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center

The funds support free, quality immigration legal services to students and campus community members:

• $10 million for California Community Colleges as part of AB 1809, which will be eligible for a vote on Monday, June 18.

• $7 million for the One California Program serving the California State University as part of SB 840, which the Legislature is set to approve today.

• $4 million for the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center as part of SB 840.

The demand for legal services for immigrant students has grown. The UC Center opened approximately 1,200 new legal cases on behalf of students and their families during the 2017-18 school year, a nearly 30 percent increase over the previous year.

Senator Lara graduated from San Diego State University and has been an advocate for access to education for immigrant communities. He created the DREAM Loan program (SB 1210, 2014) to provide low-interest loans to Dreamers, SB 1159 (2014), which expanded access to licenses in 40 professions for California’s undocumented graduates, SB 1139 (2016) to allow Dreamers to apply to medical school to address the chronic shortage of medical professionals in immigrant communities, and SB 68 (2017) to expand access to AB 540 in-state tuition to nontraditional students.

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