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Opponents of a new law that allows illegal immigrants to receive college financial aid were given the green light to begin collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn the measure, Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office announced today.

Led by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, referendum backers hope to halt implementation of the California Dream Act. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure Oct. 8.

Donnelly's group has until Jan. 6 to collect valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters. Donnelly has said he hopes to wage a largely volunteer effort fueled by social media and talk radio.

Assembly Bill 131, written by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, will allow undocumented immigrant college students who already qualify for in-state tuition rates to receive state-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants. Qualified students must have attended California high schools for at least three years and graduated.

The measure is scheduled to take effect in 2013. If Donnelly succeeds in securing the signatures, the measure would be halted until it can be decided by state voters next year.



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