With graduation steadily approaching, many students throughout New York State are not only celebrating an end to 12 years or so of educational hard work but are also prepping to embark on a new educational journey as they ready themselves for college.
However, there are a selected many who—while they themselves want to go to college—may never be able to get apply to college and take part in this journey because of their status of citizenship.
In New York State there are undocumented students who will graduate from high school this year and while they may have the grades to get into college most will never be able to apply or enroll. For undocumented students—orimmigrant youth—who have been students at public schools in New York State their educational journey may end the moment they graduate high school.
After graduating from high school, undocumented students may find themselves in education limbo when it comes to going to college because the only way they can continue their education is if they can pay for it.
Most undocumented students could qualify for in-state tuition for local colleges, however due to their status they are not eligible to receive any help from the state in financial aid that would allow them to do so.
In New York State there is an estimated 146,000 undocumented youth living in the state. Of this numbers only 10% will pursue a college degree and face the burdens of paying for their education out of pocket without any aid despite qualifying for state aid or various scholarships.
Many undocumented students who are ready to go to college and truly want to are expected to figure out a way to pay the tuition, upfront, and in cash. And for those who cannot pay, their educational pursuit ends…
But there is some hope.
Currently, there is a continued fight to get a bill passed that could help undocumented students get into college with some financial aid support. The state legislature has been trying to pass the New York DREAM Act.
Much like the bill it was named after, the DREAM act of the 200s that was largely campaigned, the New York DREAM Act would allow undocumented students to receive state aid and scholarships for higher education much like other college students depending on if they meet in-state tuition requirements.
However, the bill that would help many undocumented students has met a roadblock.
On March 18th, 2014, the New York State Senate gave a vote of 30 in favor and 29 opposed the bill which led it to being rejected. With 32 votes in favor being needed the bill would have passed enabling hundreds of undocumented students college access.
At the vote, all of the Republican representatives voted against the bill meanwhile two Democratsa—Simcha Felder of Brooklyn and Ted O’Brien of the Rochester—voted no. When the senate did not pass the bill, the undocumented organizers of the New York State Youth Leadership Council took to their Facebook page and stated:
“We are beyond disappointed that the New York Senate would be so reckless with our future. This isn’t over yet! We are ready to hold the NY State Senate accountable and the light brigade will shine on to make sure they hear us! It ain’t over for the NY DREAM Act! We demand financial aid over for undocumented youth! Join our light brigade on Wednesday evening from 6:30pm-8:30pm in front of 250 Broadway as we hold the Senate accountable for the failure of the NY DREAM Act. We are not giving up on the bill and will make sure they see us and hear from us! Contact [email protected] and [email protected] for more info.
Despite initially being rejected the fight continues to get the bill passed.
Members of the New York State Dream Act Coalition and organizers of the New York State Youth Leadership Council are still pushing for the New York Dream Act and trying to get it back on the senate floor to be considered for future passing. It is a fight worth taking considering New York is failing its undocumented youth.
According National Conference of State Legislatures, the state of New York falls behind other states that are known to have a high population of immigrants. States like California, Mexico, Texas, and Washington offer undocumented students with state financial aid in order for them to attain a higher education.
In a world that is becoming progressively interconnected with the vast advancements we have made with technology, education is an essentially tool all should be exposed to. As technologies develop, our minds should not only developed in-accordance with technology but with each other. To disallow one group of people from attaining an education allowed to others doesn’t better society but cripples it. We do not harm the individual when we cannot allow them to grow, but we are harming ourselves by disallowing a future doctor, scientist, or educator from steering us towards a better tomorrow.