New York Board Of Regents To Draft Own Version Of State DREAM Act

New York's Board of Regents is looking to support a state version of the federal DREAM Act, a move that comes on the heels of its endorsement of the national proposal as well as last month's passage of the California DREAM Act, NY1 reports.

The Board of Regents would write their own draft of the legislation, which would be similar to state bills introduced in March that would open up opportunities for undocumented students to receive scholarships, obtain driver's licenses and practice a profession. They must also have come to the United States before the age of 16 and have lived at least two years in the state. Unlike the federal DREAM Act, the New York bill would not permit granting students legal status.

The state bill is expected to ease access to higher education for about 345,000 students across New York.

Last month, Board of Regents Chancellor and State Education Commissioner John King sent a letter to New York's congressional delegation, urging them to support the DREAM Act when it comes before them on the national level. Congress failed to pass the federal DREAM Act last year, the latest of several reintroductions since its first appearance in 2001.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised states that are making efforts to encourage public education for children of undocumented immigrants.

"They are either going to be taxpayers and productive citizens and entrepreneurs and innovators or they are going to be on the sidelines and a drag on the economy," Duncan told the Associated Press.

More than a dozen states have enacted policies that increase access to public education for undocumented students. Rhode Island's Board of Governors recently approved in-state tuition for undocumented citizens, effective next fall. Connecticut has passed similar legislation.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a two-part bill into law over the last few months that allows undocumented students to receive limited financial aid and makes undocumented students eligible for public scholarships.