Supporters said immigrant children who have graduated and completed at least three years of high school in California should not be penalized for their parents' decision to bring them to the U.S. illegally.
�It is one small measure to help these kids that are working their butts off to live the American dream,� said Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate.
The bill would build upon existing state law that allows the same group of students to qualify for in-state tuition at California public schools and community colleges based on high school attendance, rather than U.S. citizenship or state residency.
Critics said offering financial aid to illegal immigrants would short-change needy American students already competing for a small pot of money.
�We're talking about limited resources here,� said Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine. �There's only so much that can go around. It's a slap in the face to people who have followed the rules.�
Lawmakers approved SB160 by a 43-27 vote, with no Republicans supporting it, and sent it to the Senate for final approval. Aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he had taken no position on the bill.