Good news, DREAMers: the New York State Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would create a privately funded scholarship to help undocumented kids go to college.
If it becomes law, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Fund Commission would enable people to solicit private contributions for college scholarships for illegal immigrants.
“For more than three centuries, immigrants have traveled to America – millions coming through New York – seeking nothing more than freedom and opportunity,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says in a statement. “Their sweat, their blood and their sacrifice helped build our state and our nation. What we are proposing with our legislation is to give today’s immigrant youth the same opportunity to work hard, to achieve and to make their own way, which are quintessential American values.”
The problem with dealing with undocumented children is that many of them were brought to the U.S. illegally, by no fault of their own. In other words, you can’t blame 3-year-olds if their parents brought them to America illegally — and the argument is they shouldn’t suffer later in life because of a decision made by their parents.
Unfortunately, the law’s the law, so technically these children are in the country illegally, despite the fact that they’ve spent the majority of their lives here and, in many cases, haven’t been to their native countries in over a decade. These kids face not only challenges in getting an education, but deportation, too.
Take, for example, the case of Miguel Aparicio, a longtime track coach at a high school in Phoenix, Arizona. Aparicio was brought to the country from Mexico by smugglers paid by his grandmother when he was 15. Since then, he’s been a productive member of society (he’s not a gang-banger, he doesn’t sell drugs, etc.) working as a highly regarded coach. He was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in 2009 and police discovered he was in the country illegally. He was then deported. Get the full story here.
There’s also the case of Angelica Hernandez, who graduated from Arizona State University at the top of her class with a 4.5 GPA. She was the valedictorian of the university’s mechanical engineering school. Unfortunately, she’s an illegal immigrant who was brought to the U.S. when she was 9 years old. Despite busting her ass to earn a 4.5 GPA, she might never be able to use her degree in America because of her less than-legal immigration status – and also faces the risk of deportation. More on that here.
New York’s bill doesn’t include a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are productive members of society — as a bill that’s continuously voted down in Congress would do. But it gives them more opportunities to get an education, which many immigration activists consider a good first step.
The bill, however, faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled state Senate, which is where it’s currently headed.
Click here to read the bill in its entirety.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2012