California Dream Act opponents seek repeal

October 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands of newly printed petitions are hitting the streets statewide in an effort to repeal the California Dream Act, which allows undocumented college students to apply for publicly-funded financial aid.

In order to put the issue before voters, 505,000 valid signatures must be collected by Jan. 6.

Rigo Avelar is one of the coordinators behind the referendum drive and said he doesn't want his tax dollars helping illegal students.

"How can you give a certain group a certain break and expect another group to pay for it, where the very basics of it is illegal?" Avelar said.

Sen. Gil Cedillo's office, which successfully got the California Dream Act approved, isn't worried. Even if the referendum gets on the ballot, staffers feel Californians will side with them.

"We think the voters of California will be supportive of providing an education and helping finance the education of these kids," said Dan Savage, Cedillo's chief of staff.

It will be difficult for the referendum to get that far.

An unusually high number of referendums were filed this year - seven - and not one has gotten the required signatures within the 90-day deadline.

Even the efforts to overturn the controversial firefighting fee on rural residents and the inclusion of gay history in school curriculum failed to qualify, mostly because they didn't have the $3 million it typically takes to hire people to gather signatures.

Good government groups said it's time to give referendum drives more time so that grassroots campaigns with no money can have a fighting chance against funded interests.

"It's almost at the point where a grass roots group without some deep pockets behind them really can't get it done," said Derek Cressman of California Common Cause.

A counter-drive is expected in support of the Dream Act.


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