Board Of Regents To Support New York Version Of DREAM Act
Officials at the State Board of Regents are planning to support a New York version of the DREAM Act to help undocumented students reach college and work toward successful careers. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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Education officials are clear: Their job is to get kids ready for college and careers.
But for hundreds of thousands of New York students, neither seems to be an option. Without access to loans, grants or even an ID, many undocumented students run out of options after they graduate from public school.
“Once they find out exactly what the dilemma is, there is a sense of hopelessness. Why am I doing this? Why did I come to school in the first place? What’s going to happen to me in the future? Will I be able to find a job?” said Keesha Lindsay, assistant principal of the Walton Campus.
The State Board of Regents wants to change that. Last month, it voted to make an unusual move and go to Washington to lobby federal lawmakers for the DREAM Act. It would allow undocumented students who've grown up and gone to school in this country easier access to college.
Now the Board of Regents plans to support a New York State version of the act, which many see as more likely to pass.
“This is a country and this is a state that has always welcomed immigrants,” said Meryl Tisch, chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents.
The regents are drafting their own legislation similar to bills introduced in both the State Senate and Assembly last spring. However, the regents’ bill only expands tuition access: It won't include giving undocumented students drivers licenses or health care.
State Senator Bill Perkins said the lawmakers are willing to work with the education officials.
“Wherever we can get support in that caliber very much helps. The Regents is a highly regarded institution,” said Perkins.
One of the challenges will be funding. With the state's ongoing budget crisis, adding anything to the balance sheet is a very tough sell.
But advocates say giving students access to more opportunity is a sound economic investment. Walton Campus’ assistant principal said one former undocumented student graduated second in her class only to work at a 99-cent store.
“This brilliant mind, practically you could say it went to waste,” said Lindsay.
Despite the economy, lawmakers and education officials think it's the right time to get this legislation passed in New York.
And while the governor has not officially weighed in, they say behind closed doors it sounds like he might agree.