New York Legislature Passes Long-Awaited DREAM Act

By Jennifer DiSiena – Late last month, the New York State legislature passed The Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act (S1250/A782), which provides children of undocumented immigrants with higher education opportunities in the state.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has long supported the measure and plans to sign the bill into law.

The DREAM Act establishes the New York State DREAM Fund, a new source of private funding which will provide scholarship awards to the children of immigrants.  The legislation also provides undocumented immigrants with access to state tuition assistance programs, including funds from the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

The New York State Youth Leadership Council and NYU Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic reports that New York has the fourth largest population of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Of the estimated 630,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York, an estimated 146,000 immigrants will now be eligible for tuition assistance as a result of the DREAM Act.

Passage of the DREAM Act has been a priority for democrats in the state legislature since it was first introduced in the state in 2013.  The newly Democratic-led state legislature acted quickly to pass this long-awaited bill, taking it up within the first month of the 2019 legislative session.

Many states have taken up legislation in recent years to pass protections and benefits for Dreamers as the federal government continues to debate these measures on the federal level. The National Council on State Legislatures reports that sixteen states, including New York, and the District of Columbia provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.  Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington have recently enacted laws that provide financial aid assistance to immigrant students.

Six states have barred undocumented immigrants from receiving in-state tuition, including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina.

View the February 2019 edition of the Inside Story newsletter.