Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed the second half of the two-part California Dream Act, which makes illegal immigrant students eligible for state-funded scholarships and aid at state universities.

The first half of the act, signed into law by Brown in July, approved private scholarships and loans for illegal immigrant students.

The second half of the legislation allows illegal immigrant students to apply for state aid, as long as they have graduated from California high schools and can prove they are on the path to legalizing their immigration status .

Authored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, the newly enacted legislation requires llegal immigrant students to meet the same conditions as all other students applying for financial aid at state universities. However, it specifies that they qualify for financial aid only after all legal residents have applied.

The signing of now both parts of the California Dream Act will send a message across the country that California is prepared to lead the country with a positive and productive vision for how we approach challenging issues related to immigration, The Associated Press quoted Cedillo as saying.

Opponents of the act said public funds should not be used to help illegal immigrants. Because California is the most populous state in the country, however, adoption of the controversial measure represents a victory for immigrant-rights activists ahead of the 2012 presidential election, according to Reuters.