Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, is urging California's two U.S. senators to push passage of a bill that would establish a path to legal residency for students who are illegal immigrants.
Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have both said they support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or the DREAM Act.
"I would only ask that they become aggressive advocates of it," Birgeneau said today as he took part with university presidents and others in a telephone news conference sponsored by the National Immigration Law Center.
The DREAM Act would create a way for undocumented students to earn legal residency over the course of six years by completing at least two years of college or serving in the military.
Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, who is running against Boxer in the November general election, has said that she wouldn't support new immigration legislation until the border is deemed secured.
California is estimated to be home to more than a quarter of the young people who might qualify for the DREAM Act. Birgeneau said the state could benefit if these students were allowed to become legal and put their skills to work.
University of California records show that illegal immigrant students make up less than 1 percent of the student body. If they have grown up here, California allows them to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities, but they cannot obtain financial aid.
PHOTO CREDIT: Students walk past Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus on Oct. 29, 2001. Paul E. Rodriguez/ Orange County Register file photo