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OpinionColumnistsAnne Michaud

Michaud: NYS not 'progressive' on immigration

Student advocates and their allies, on Wednesday, March

Student advocates and their allies, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 in Hicksville, rally outside the Long Island Regional Office for NY state government, calling for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to revive the NY Dream Act proposal that would have granted state-funded financial aid to immigrant college students who live in the country illegally. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

State after state is advancing the fortunes of so-called Dreamers. But not New York. Lagging behind is the Empire State, dragging its battered reputation as a progressive leader.

Earlier this week, Virginia's attorney general, Mark R. Herring, told state colleges and universities that they should begin offering in-state rates to students who were brought to the United States illegally and raised here -- aka Dreamers.

"These 'Dreamers' are already Virginians in some very important ways," Herring said in a statement.

Two days later, the Florida State Legislature voted to require in-state tuition for Dreamers, joining 18 other states.

The office of New York's Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman pointed out that Dreamers here already had a better deal than in Virginia or Florida: They're eligible for in-state tuition. What New York's Dream Act would do is qualify undocumented students for some student loans and set up a private scholarship program called the Dream Fund.

But the legislation stalled last month in the New York State Senate.

Senators need to soften their hearts. Dreamers are kids who were brought to this country when they were too young to have a say in the matter. How are they going to lift themselves up -- the great promise of America -- if the hurdles to attending college are so much higher? This isn't a giveaway; these kids have worked hard for good grades to gain admission to SUNY.

They are our New Yorkers in some very important ways.