The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports the New York Dream Act (A.2597/S.2378) which provides opportunities for undocumented students in New York who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to institutions of higher education.
WBASNY recognizes the moral imperative for this legislation as well as its long-term fiscal benefits. New York invests time and money in the K-12 education of all of its residents. But we curtail that investment if we deprive undocumented students of the financial means to successfully complete a higher education. Individuals with college degrees have a greater earning capacity than those less educated. Moreover, increasing the affordability of college decreases drop-out rates. New York’s tax revenues will increase over time as more students obtain higher degrees. These long-term benefits inure to all New Yorkers. Through President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, many undocumented students have and will become eligible to work (albeit with their immigration status unchanged).
While WBASNY endorses these bills, WBASNY is concerned that more needs to be done to support this population. For example, although the legislation references “parents or guardians” of the applicant, those terms are not clearly defined, and it does not address young adults in a foster care environment. WBASNY also recommends the protection of the identity of these students so they are not discouraged from applying for aid.
WBASNY urges swift passage of the bills by the Assembly and Senate and further encourages Governor Cuomo to sign the legislation when passed.