On the heels of President Obama's deferred action program for young immigrants, the state Assembly introduced new legislation today to give qualified applicants help affording education.
The deferred action program, which began earlier this week, would allow young undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria to get temporary legal status in the United States. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman estimated as many as 90,000 New Yorkers could benefit from the program.
The new legislation, which was sponsored by Silver, Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah Glick, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya, would give immigrants who qualify for deferred action status access to tuition assistance programs that are currently unavailable to undocumented immigrants.
"These young immigrants, who really know no other home than the United States, deserve the same opportunities and chance to succeed," Silver said. "By opening up financial aid and other higher education options to them, young immigrants will now have a fighting chance to realize their dreams and contribute to this great nation."
The bill requires the state Commissioner of Education, in consultation of the president of Higher Education Services Corporation, to create an application to qualify students for New York state programs if they cannot apply for federal aid.
This isn't the first help lawmakers have given to deferred action applicants. State officials announced $450,000 in grants to groups that can help young immigrants properly apply to the program and avoid being scammed. Schneiderman also sent out tips to applicants on how to avoid being hoodwinked during the application process.
In my 12 years of teaching, I have seen way too many students who were brought to this country illegally as children have to defer their dreams of a college education because the government doesn't provide financial aid and their families couldn't afford to pay cash for them to go to school.
So I hope this becomes law.
Senate Republicans haven't said whether they'll take this up.
If they do, and they pass it, will Governor Cuomo sign it?