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DREAM Act (Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minors) legislation has been controversial on both the state and national level. In
California, numerous pieces of legislation over the years have sought to increase undocumented students' access to higher education. Most
recently in 2011, Governor Brown signed AB 131 allowing undocumented students eligibility to qualify for state-funded aid such as Cal Grants.
On a national level, a directive from President Obama in 2012 allows undocumented minors an opportunity to stay and work in the country for
a specified number of years and not be deported. Those eligible must fill out an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
and meet a number of criteria in order to be considered. Critics on both sides of the issue have attacked this directive as "backdoor amnesty",
or as a weak alternative to the DREAM Act legislation that failed congresssional approval in 2010.
The California State Assembly Fellowship Program, founded in 1957, is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious legislative fellowship programs. In 1987, the program was renamed the Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program to honor California's former Assembly Speaker and State Treasurer. This unique program provides an opportunity for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to directly participate in the legislative process. Each year, 18 individuals are selected to participate in the program. The 11-month fellowship provides an introduction to public policy formation and adoption in the California Legislature through full-time work as a professional legislative staff member.