As America waits on Congress to take action on comprehensive immigration reform, states have recently taken the issue into their own hands, with some 19 states passing some variation of a DREAM Act through laws or policies allowing undocumented youngsters to pay in-state college tuition, rather than the higher out-of-state rate.
New Jersey was the latest to join that list, with Gov. Chris Christie last week signing into law such a measure.
And also last week, the House in Washington state passed a measure that would enable undocumented college students to qualify for state financial aid, a measure the state Senate is expected to back as well.
And while immigration reform became a key issue in Congress last year, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont all approved access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, bringing to 13 the number of states that have passed such a law.
There is a strong push building for New York to join those states. Last week, DREAMers, activists and community leaders joined together to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include the NY DREAM Act in the 2014 budget. Advocates are also pushing for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, a measure designed to make all residents safer.
This is a clear indication that the nationwide sentiment toward immigration is shifting, and is a far cry from years past when states, led by Arizona, were passing anti-immigrant laws such as SB 1070.
It’s also a signal that states are tired of waiting for Congress to act on immigration reform, and are taking the issue into their own hands.
It’s time for Congress to finally take action on immigration reform.