Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, whose hopes for a full term were washed out in California's Democratic "rip current" this month, took a small step toward trying to repair his party's poor standing among Latino voters today by staging a press conference call to promote the federal Dream Act now being debated in Congress.
Maldonado was joined on the conference call by Pedro Ramirez, the Fresno State University student president, who publicly disclosed this month that he is not a legal resident of this country. Thanks to legislation co-authored by Maldonado as a member of the Assembly in 2001, Ramirez and other nonresident aliens like him who graduated from California high schools are able to pay in-state tuition to attend public colleges and universities in California.
Maldonado was particularly critical of pundits and politicians who mischaracterize the California law as providing "free tuition for illegal aliens."
"It's not," he said. "Students still have to pay in-state tuition."
If students such as Ramirez -- who came to this country as a 3-year-old and attended Calfiornia public schools from kindergarten through high school -- had to pay out-of-state-tuition, they would never be able to afford college, Maldonado said.
"Allow him to become a taxpayer who will be paying more taxes down the road," Maldonado said. "As Californians, we're going to get our money back."