Over the last two months immigrant advocates around New York have called on Gov. Cuomo to endorse the New York State DREAM Act in his State of the State address. As he failed to do last year, the governor once again did not mention the bill. This critical oversight must be corrected when Cuomo presents his budget to the state legislature.
The New York State DREAM Act makes the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) available to undocumented immigrants who attend college in the state. It is not a hugely expensive program. Most estimates are that it will cost the state just a few million dollars. But it will have a huge incentiving effect on young immigrants trying to decide if they are going to stay in school. Passage of the legislation says to these scholars that New York recognizes their potential and wants to treat them the same as any other high school graduate.
It is particularly important that the governor speak out for this bill. In doing so he will place himself squarely in the camp of those political leaders in places like Maryland and Illinois who are erasing the discrimination against children brought here by their parents and set New York up as the progressive answer to Arizona’s and Alabama’s racist anti-immigrant policies.
There is also an important practical reason for passage. The federal DREAM Act is again on the agenda. If it is passed, young people will need to complete two years of college to receive a green card. They can begin to meet that requirement now.
While Cuomo’s decision not to recognize the contribution and potential of immigrant youth is lamentable, he can correct it soon.