While American citizens struggle with rising college tuition costs, undocumented immigrants are getting a free graduation ride in New York state and other places around the nation.
Democratic legislators in New York passed a new bill in January 2019 that provides millions of dollars to educate people who are not U.S. citizens: the DREAMers.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S.1291) legislation was crafted to phase qualifying immigrant minors of undocumented parents who entered the country illegally into U.S. citizenship. The legal process would first grant conditional residency and then, after meeting further qualifications, permanent legal residency status to these children.
The bill was first introduced on August 1, 2001, by United States Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and has been reintroduced several times since then, but has consistently failed to pass into federal law.
In December 2010, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) expressed his opposition to the idea of facilitating citizenship for alien children brought into the country by their criminal parents:
“Illegal immigration is a critical problem facing our country, but amnesty is not the solution…I do not support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.”
Among the qualifications the DREAM required for illegal youth to gain a pass for U.S. citizenship were:
- Attend or graduate from an institution of higher learning
- Be of a certain age to apply
- Be physically present in the U.S. for a certain number of years
- Have good moral character
- Never violated other immigration laws
After Senate bill 1291 failed to win the majority vote in 2010, lawmakers introduced many DREAM Act bills, numbering at least 21 variations of the basic theme to naturalize the children of illegal aliens.
DREAMers have assimilated into U.S. culture over the years and received U.S. schooling. Now many of them are of an age to go to college.
Soon after the 2019 New Year, fortune (in the form of a Democratic legislature) smiled on college-bound DREAMers who live in New York: a new version of the DREAM Act passed into law.
However, unlike its namesake, the New York DREAM Act does not pave the way to U.S. citizenship. This law lets undocumented high school students qualify for in-state assistance for college tuition to public universities and community colleges. New York DREAMers will have “access [to] the same in-state scholarships and financial aid available to U.S. citizens.”
Dems won a majority of seats in the New York state legislature in the 2018 midterm elections. For the first time in ten years, Donkeys control both the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature.
The José Peralta, New York State DREAM Act, was written to make sure that children of illegal immigrant parents can pursue higher education in order to become higher wage earners who can “fully participate” in their state’s economy. The bill was renamed in memory of immigrant champion and DREAM chaser Senator José Peralta, who died in November 2018.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa made the announcement that their DREAM Act had succeeded in sending illegal aliens to college at U.S. taxpayer expense. Heastie commented:
“The Assembly Majority believes in breaking down barriers, not creating them. We know higher education is the key to ending the cycle of poverty and enabling families to thrive. We have repeatedly passed the DREAM Act because we know it is economically misguided and morally unjust to deprive students educated in our very own public schools of the tools they need to be successful.”
Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick, chair of the Higher Education Committee, added:
“Our public primary and secondary schools are required by law to educate our children and prepare them for college, regardless of residence or immigration status. That investment is squandered when higher education is placed out of reach, and it is a huge disservice to students and all New Yorkers.”
Here are the qualification requirements for state higher education assistance if you don’t have U.S. citizen status:
- Attended an approved NYS high school for two or more years, graduated from an approved NYS high school and applied for attendance to an NYS college or university within five years of receiving their NYS high school diploma; or
- Attended an approved NYS program for a state high school equivalency diploma, received their state high school equivalency diploma and applied for attendance to an NYS college or university within five years of receiving their state high school equivalency diploma; or
- Are otherwise eligible for in-state tuition at SUNY, CUNY or community colleges as prescribed by their admission criteria.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the new education assistance fund is forecast to cost $27 million or 0.015% of New York’s $175 billion annual operating budget.
New York follows California (2017) and New Jersey (2018) in passing in-state versions of the DREAM Act. “Currently, at least 18 states have provisions allowing for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students,” disclosed the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
NJ.com summed up the difference between the Republican and Democratic approaches to dealing with aging DREAMers:
“College students who are unauthorized immigrants in the state are already allowed to pay for their Garden State college classes at in-state rates. Former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, gave thousands of students who grew up in New Jersey but are in the country illegally that ability in 2013.
“Now, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, took the measure a step further when he signed a bill into law Wednesday that would let some of those students be eligible for financial aid — something Christie refused to go along with.”
U.S. student loan debt is at an all-time high, totaling $1.52 TRILLION (with a ‘T’). According to Value Penguin, “The average student debt in the United States is $32,731.”
While many American citizens face years of paying off crushing student loans, New York DREAMers will avoid that financial burden – legally.
Patriots are unhappy with this giveaway program. Republican state Senator Daphne Jordan called the bill “a slap in the face for all the hardworking taxpayers who play the rules and struggle for the costs of a college education.”
Other Republican New York legislators pointed out that paying tuition for illegal aliens out of a state college fund is unfair because it subtracts money ear-marked for higher education from eligible citizens.
The New York DREAM Act is pending Governor Cuomo’s signature into law. Cuomo supports taxpayer tuition for illegal immigrants. He has already written his own version into the state budget plan.
Democratic New Yorker lawmakers who back the Dream Act are also weighing granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and beefing up their housing protections. Cuomo has also come out in favor of forcing insurance companies to provide free contraceptive care to illegals.