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The New York State Youth Leadership Council announced yesterday that a state version of the DREAM Act was introduced in the New York Senate.
Although the group is hailing this as a positive step, it’s a big step backwards from what the DREAM Act set out to be. Originally introduced over ten years ago, the federal DREAM Act was supposed to have provided a pathway to citizenship for children brought to the United States illegally, who were willing to go to college or serve in the military. However, when that bill finally came up for a vote in the Senate last fall, it failed.
New York youth immigration activists, unsatisfied with inaction from the federal government, have set their sites on Albany.
The State version of the DREAM Act was introduced by Senators Bill Perkins and Daniel Squadron this week. According to the NYSYLC:
“This bill would provide benefits to New York undocumented youth who meet certain criteria. The benefits include access to financial aid for higher education, access to driver’s licenses, work authorization and access to health care. In order to qualify for these benefits, the young person must have arrived to the United States before the age of 16, be under the age of 35, have resided in New York State for at least two years, have obtained a high school diploma or GED equivalent from an American institution and have good moral character.”
But these are really crumbs compared to the goals of the original DREAM Act. Immigration issues fall in the jurisdiction of the federal, not state, government. Even if this bill passed, New York State would have no ability to halt raids by Immigration Customs Enforcement (which have been at a record high during the Obama administration), let alone create a pathway to U.S. citizenship.