People throughout the Inland area are signing petitions to put a measure on the ballot that would prevent giving state grants to illegal immigrant college students.

BY DAVID OLSON
STAFF WRITER
dolson@pe.com

Published: 01 December 2011 09:26 PM

Gus Vizgirda drove more than a half hour out of his way Wednesday to sign a petition.

Vizgirda, 51, heard on the “John and Ken” conservative talk-radio show that the campaign to repeal the two-month-old California Dream Act – which allows state aid for illegal-immigrant college students – was in Temecula.

“When I heard on the radio about this, I thought, ‘I don’t care if it takes me two hours, I’ll do it,’” Vizgirda said as he stood in the chilly late-afternoon wind in a parking lot outside the Temecula Parkway Wal-Mart. “I don’t think we should be paying illegal aliens to get an education.”

The Temecula resident was one of several thousand people in six cities Wednesday who signed petitions to put a measure repealing the law – known as AB 131, or the California Dream Act – on the 2012 ballot, said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Stop AB131.

Other petition drives Wednesday were staged in Corona, Rancho Cucamonga, Victorville, Laguna Niguel and outside Santa Clarita. Dozens more took place in the past few weeks or are scheduled before Jan. 6, the deadline to submit signatures, Kerns said.

Nearly 505,000 valid signatures are needed to qualify for the ballot. The committee has more than 100,000 that have been collected by volunteers and is preparing to hire paid signature gatherers, Kerns said.

The law, signed Oct. 8 by Gov. Jerry Brown, makes undocumented immigrants eligible for state-funded grants, scholarships and other assistance. The other part of the Dream Act, which permits privately funded scholarships for illegal immigrants, is not part of the repeal effort.

One of the most vocal legislative opponents of the Dream Act, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, who represents part of San Bernardino County, formed the Stop AB131 committee Oct. 10.

“It’s absolute sheer insanity,” Donnelly said of the law. “We don’t have enough (public university) seats and resources for students who are citizens and legal immigrants. I don’t think there’s support to use money for entitlements for anyone who’s going to come here illegally.”

Donnelly said the Dream Act provides an incentive for people to enter the country illegally.

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