New York State Approves Tuition Assistance, Scholarship Program for ‘Dreamers’

Activists and DACA recipients march up Broadway during the start of their ‘Walk to Stay Home,’ a five-day 250-mile walk from New York to Washington D.C., to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act, in Manhattan, New York on February 15, 2018. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

New York lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill that would make it easier for so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, to pay for college.

The Jose Peralta New York state DREAM Act would provide access to state tuition-assistance programs to Dreamers who have completed at least two years of high school in New York and received at least an equivalency diploma. It would also set up a privately funded “DREAM Fund” for scholarships. It passed the state Senate 40 to 20 and the state Assembly 90 to 37, and Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign it into law.

“It is economically misguided and morally unjust to deprive students educated in our very own public schools of the tools they need to be successful,” said Assembly speaker Carl Heastie.

But Republican state senator James Tedisco said his constituents “can’t understand why this bill is passing for individuals who have broken the law.”

The Assembly has passed the bill nine times in total, but Republicans, who until November controlled the Senate, had always been able to prevent it from becoming law in the past.

“Even though the Republicans blocked the bill, we persisted,” said Assembly member Carmen De La Rosa, who sponsored the bill.

Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia currently have laws allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college-tuition prices.

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