The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, allows low-income Mexican residents living within 45 miles of the California–Mexico border to apply for a pilot program that would grant them tuition benefits. Those eligible will be accepted for in-state tuition rates.
The current average California community college tuition per year is $1,246 for in-state students and $6,603 for those from out-of-state.
California Democrats said the purpose of the law is to help low-income Mexicans who want to attend college and prepare them for jobs.
California State Assemblymember David Alvarez, who authored the bill, also claimed the benefits wouldn’t just go to Mexican nationals.
“There are students who might actually be U.S. citizens but happen to be living in the Baja region because of the cost of living,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “So there are some students who find themselves in that situation who don’t have a California residence because families can’t afford to live here.”
Chula Vista Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas said the bill will help integrate nearby Mexican citizens into the U.S., even if they are not allowed to live in the country legally.
“We want to make them feel that they really are a part of our community, and I am hoping that it will bring in so much untapped potential that we see across the border,” she said. “Because of the price of housing and inflation people are moving across the border but working over here.”
The bill was one of several California Democrats passed last week. Another bill signed by Newsom increases the mandatory minimum wage for healthcare workers to $25 per hour, and $20 per hour for fast-food workers.