New York Democrats back Dream Act
Democrats in the New York Assembly are solidly behind a bill that would give illegal immigrants access to the state’s college financial aid programs, The New York Times reports. If adopted, Assembly Bill 2597 would make New York the fourth state to enact the so-called Dream Act. Texas, New Mexico and Maryland have similar statutes offering financial aid to illegal immigrants who satisfy certain conditions. New York’s illegal immigrants have been allowed to pay in-state tuition at state universities in New York since 2002.
To qualify for financial aid, illegal immigrants would have to attend a high school in New York for at least two years and would either have to have graduated from a New York high school or received an equivalency certificate in the state. In addition, students would be required to have lived with parents or guardians while they attended high school. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who proposed the legislation, said in a news release, "Our immigrant families, like many struggling in these trying economic times, need financial help to achieve their educational goals," said Silver. "As a child of immigrants, I know that investing in these inspiring students represents an investment in our future."
Democrats, who control the Assembly, reportedly are behind adoption of The Dream Act, although the measure’s future is less certain in the Senate, controlled by Republicans. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, reportedly has not indicated whether he would back the legislation.
This legislation would give young immigrants access to a broad range of state educational opportunity programs such as:
- Tuition Assistance Program (TAP);
- Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP);
- Educational Opportunity Program (EOP);
- Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP); and
- Opportunity programs available at community colleges.
A federal version of The Dream Act, which is stalled in Congress, would provide a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented young people who were 15 or under when they entered the U.S. and who complete a college degree or spend two years in the military. The Dream Act has strong support nationally from immigrant advocates, who contend approximately 65,000 young people coming to the U.S. with their parents are denied access to higher education.