New York state considers local version of the DREAM Act | St. Louis, Missouri Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking

Good news coming Monday for DREAMers living in New York State who may soon be getting financial aid if they are college-bound. Legislation to provide financial aid and other assistance for undocumented immigrants who want to further their education has gained political support in New York. The state Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act is being pushed by Speaker Sheldon Silver who has powerful influence in the Senate. His fellow Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several Republicans sharing control of the state Senate are interested in discussing the details of the bill.

The well-known Dream Act will now have the power to provide poor immigrant families with methods to afford college for their children through a state Tuition Assistance Plan and various academic assistance programs. This also provides a way to raise money for scholarships to aid those who are struggling but still want to attain an education. “Our immigrant families, like many struggling in these trying economic times, need financial help to achieve their educational goals,” said Silver. “Investing in these inspiring students represents an investment in our future.” Immigrant community leaders and Latino Legislators the new political trends are helping their cause which has not received much support in the past. The youth can no longer be excluded from an education because of their financial position compared to their classmates.

New York would be joining several other states including Texas, New Mexico and California who offer financial aid for immigrant children including those who do not have their documents yet. New York will offer lower in-state resident tuition at certain public colleges that has been offered since 2002 despite the student’s legal status. A federal Dream Act proposal would provide financial aid to any college-bound immigrants and perhaps a pathway to citizenship for younger adults. The proposal is expected to be debated with budget negotiations this upcoming Tuesday. The $132 billion budgets forecasts to have more than a $1 billion deficit. Republicans, who balked at last year’s proposal because of the high costs, have said they will be considering several different variations to work with the costs.

Jeffrey Klein, a Democrat leader, says the Dream Act is his top priority. His proposal would provide $19.5 million a year to assist in state financial aid from a licensing fee for expansion of casino gambling. “We have a tremendous opportunity to help educate thousands of smart young people from around the world who have moved here to pursue the American dream,” he said.

Despite the high costs associated with the plan, both sides of the aisle are agreeing that education should be available to those who want to pursue it. The Dream Act may end up costing the government between $17-30 million a year.

It is unlikely that the Missouri legislature will be considering any similar type of legislation as the climate in the Missouri state house is much more antagonistic towards immigrants.

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