Assemblyman Gil Cedillo is counting on new Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat heavily supported by Latino voters last year, to be more receptive to the issue than former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who vetoed similar measures last year.
Cedillo's bills would apply to undocumented immigrants who have attended California high schools, adult schools or technical schools for three years or more, graduated or attained an equivalent degree from them, and filed an application to legalize their status.
The two bills, Assembly Bills 130 and 131, would benefit the "best and brightest" of undocumented immigrants, who came to the United States as children through no choice of their own and embraced the English language and culture -- and performed well in state schools, Cedillo said.
"Our economy will need them," he said. "Our work force and leadership is aging out -- we need a new generation of architects and engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, even some people in government. And this is a generation that will do that."
AB 130 would enable undocumented immigrants who meet the school attendance, achievement and other criteria to apply for financial aid from a pool of money that is private but administered by state colleges and universities.
AB 130 also would allow community colleges to waive fees for low-income undocumented immigrants who meet the bill's residency, attendance and other requirements.
Cedillo's companion measure, Assembly Bill 131, would permit such students to apply for taxpayer-funded financial aid, such as Cal Grants, but not to displace eligible citizens in receiving assistance.
PHOTO: Gil Cedillo in 2009. Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee