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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gavin Newsom: Friend or Foe of Illegal Immigrant Youth?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Friend of students, foe of alleged felons.
  • Friend of students, foe of alleged felons.

Update: Newsom's spokesman responds. Read below. 

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has come out today supporting a group he threw the book at during his time as San Francisco mayor: illegal immigrant youth.

Newsom has sent a letter to Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) in support of the California Dream Act,  which is pending legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for Cal Grants and university financial aid for California residents.

"For undocumented students who cannot legally work and who are denied the right to apply for institutional or governmental financial aid, access to a post-secondary education becomes nearly impossible," Newsom writes in a statement.

Newsom, why the change of tune?

During his time as mayor, Newsom angered the immigrant-rights community by reversing the city's long-running policy on shielding illegal immigrant juveniles who had been accused of a crime.

Now, any illegal juvenile arrested for a felony crime is reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs

Enforcement -- even if they were never convicted. That resulted in controversial scenarios, such as last year when an Australian

boy suspected of punching and then stealing 46 cents from his San Francisco classmate faced deportation. 


given Newsom's position today, we are led to believe that if that same teen remained in America and eventually applied to a college

in California, then Newsom would support him in accessing financial aid.

This legislation, which is being heard today in Sacramento, is the state's attempt to help the same students who were denied immigration relief under the federal DREAM Act. That bill failed to get enough votes to make it through Congress last December.

That law, which we wrote about in a 2010 cover story,

would give a path to permanent residency to illegal immigrants who were brought

to the U.S. as kids, and who attended two years at a college or served in the military.

California already passed AB 540 a decade ago,

which allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at California public universities. The California Dream Act would help those students cross over the remaining barrier -- paying for college while still being undocumented.

"Investing in our youth's

post-secondary education will ensure that we have the necessary workforce

to meet our state's future demands," Newsom writes in his letter today. 

Yet Newsom might be getting ahead of himself, considering the federal DREAM Act hasn't passed. Even if students could get scholarships to study, after graduation, this "necessary workforce" wouldn't be able to legally get a job.

Update, 5:20 p.m.
: Newsom's spokesman Francisco Castillo called to say, "Your comparison is ridiculous."


"You would have to assume every undocumented student who is applying has committed a crime."

We're only pointing out that Newsom came out against immigrant teens being held at juvenile hall, but is now standing by them when it comes to their rights to attend a university.

Castillo fired back, saying there's been no "change of tune" as indicated in the story because Newsom has been consistent on his pro-Dream Act position since he was mayor.
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