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NY Regents to Push for DREAM Act

October 18, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York Board of Regents is expected to vote in favor of pushing Congress to pass the DREAM Act, making it possible for young, undocumented immigrants to get college tuition assistance or to join the military and earn themselves a path to citizenship.

The President of United University Professions, Phil Smith, says his group, representing State University of New York (SUNY) academic and professional faculty, approves.

"These are young people who are here and, although they're here illegally, it's through no fault of their own. And, you know, they're working their way to becoming productive, solid citizens of the United States."

Critics, including Ira Mehlman of the Federation of American Immigration Reform, call the DREAM Act an amnesty program, saying it sends a signal to other countries to send their kids to America illegally to get an education.

Mehlman says the Act amounts to a broad amnesty that he believes is wrongly based on a perceived moral obligation to help illegal immigrants.

"That sends a signal to people all across the world: 'Bring your kids to the United States, have them get through a few years of school here and there will be that same moral obligation to do it again.' So, we're just inviting more people to violate our laws."

If the DREAM Act is passed, Phil Smith of United University Professions says he'd like to see the federal government in turn urge New York's governor and legislature to step up funding in anticipation of an ensuing spike in enrollment.

"I think the impediment that we all face is the problem that we've had in garnering public funding for our universities, both the State University of New York and the City University of New York."

The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act last December, but it is considered not to have sufficient votes for passage in the Senate.

New York's education commissioner, John King, asked the Regents to approve lobbying Congress to pass the legislation.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY