Dozens of immigrant advocates from Long Island will be lobbying their representatives and rallying today in Albany in favor of state-level reform that would qualify young immigrants in the country illegally to receive financial aid from various sources.
The proposed measures, known as the New York DREAM Act, aim to help immigrants known as “Dreamers” who crossed the border or overstayed visas as minors. Many graduate from high school every year but don’t qualify for financial aid to go to college.
There are several pending proposals to allow those students access to state-funded financial aid, permit them to make use of tax-exempt savings accounts and establish a privately funded scholarship fund for their benefit.
Advocates are pushing for state reform even as a Senate bill being discussed this session would grant those same young immigrants legal “registered” status at the national level.
Dreamers would have to wait five years to earn legal permanent residency under the federal proposal.
“These young people have been waiting for years and while the national reform is extremely important, our state can’t wait,” said Anita Halasz, organizer with Long Island Jobs With Justice, a Hauppauge advocacy group on issues that affect the working poor. “This is a bill about access to education and not just an immigration bill.”