December 2011 Issue
November 22, 2011

Regents get behind DREAM Act

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

In an effort to help more immigrant students go to college, the Board of Regents last month agreed to endorse passage of the federal Development, Relief and Education Act for Minors, or DREAM Act.

The act, supported by NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association since its introduction a decade ago, would help an estimated 345,000 students in New York who do not have legal status and face a range of barriers limiting their access to a college education — from being charged international student tuition to being denied access altogether.

The DREAM Act would allow certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status if they go to college or serve in the military. It would also eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status.

"There are hundreds of thousands of students in New York who have been condemned to a life of poverty simply because they were brought to the United States as children," said Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. "Their immigration status is determined solely by the status of their parents and they're being denied opportunities that the rest of America takes for granted."

Since Republicans are currently blocking the measure in Congress, the Regents agreed to seek state-level DREAM Act legislation, as well. SED is exploring ways to offer state financial assistance.

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira congratulated Chancellor Tisch and the Regents for making this issue a priority item on their federal and state legislative agenda.

Neira serves on the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, which is actively advancing the important mission of the DREAM Act.

"We need to build more rungs in the ladder that lead to the White House's goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020," Neira said.

The act is supported by both of NYSUT's higher education affiliates, the United University Professions at SUNY and the Professsional Staff Congress at CUNY.