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The state Assembly voted today to send Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that allows undocumented immigrant college students to receive publicly-funded financial aid.

After a lengthy debate, Assembly Bill 131 -- the second part of the controversial measure known as the California Dream Act -- cleared the lower house on a 45-27 vote.

"Today is a wonderful day," said Assemblyman Manuel Perez, D-Coachella. "Today is a day of hope. Today, there are many students throughout the state of California who are saying, 'It's about time.'"

Republicans didn't see it that way.

They argued that giving taxpayer-funded scholarships to students who are in the country illegally will encourage more immigrants to come to the state without authorization. They also said it doesn't make sense to subsidize the education of students who aren't allowed to legally work after they graduate.

"If we're going to invest in those students we should get some return on the investment when they leave school and go into the workforce," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

The Assembly approved amendments made in the Senate, intended to address the bill's costs by narrowing eligibility and delaying implementation until 2013. Those are provisions Gov. Jerry Brown had sought.

The governor signed the first piece of the so-called Dream Act in July, which allows undocumented immigrant students access to private financial aid. He said then that he planned to "look very favorably upon" its companion bill, the one the Assembly approved today.


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