Cuomo’s ‘defense’ falls short

Governor Cuomo announced a campaign to prevent unscrupulous individuals from preying on undocumented young immigrants who apply for President Obama’s temporary legalization program.

The governor’s initiative to defend immigrants from dishonest service providers includes free legal counseling sessions, information in Spanish about the program’s details (when they become public around August 14) and increased prosecution of fraudulent services.

Announced in June, Obama’s program will provide temporary, renewable legalization to thousands of undocumented immigrants under 30 who arrived in the country before they turned 16, lived here for at least five consecutive years, and have no criminal backgrounds.

We welcome Cuomo’s announcement and urge eligible readers to take advantage of it. Too many people in immigrant communities lose their money, and put their possibilities to remain in the country at risk because of scams.

However, Cuomo’s intentions to protect “Dreamers” and other undocumented youths fall short.

For the past year, the governor has refused to recognize the merits of the NY Dream Act, a bill that seeks to allow undocumented college students to access the state’s Tuition Assistance Program.

Hundreds of tireless Dreamers have repeatedly visited Albany, some of them even on foot, to pressure lawmakers to support the bill that would help them go to college. Others committed acts of civil disobedience in front of the governor’s office, seeking his support for the bill, knowing that having a police record could affect their possibilities for legalization. Cuomo did not respond either in favor or against, or with his own proposal.

We now have thousands of New York students who want a college education but can’t afford it, being ignored by a state that is supposedly concerned about young people not attending college or graduating.

Coincidentally, this week Cuomo announced $2 million in grants for programs that help “underrepresented and low-income” students obtain a college degree, because, as he said: “In today’s economy, a college degree is almost always needed to secure meaningful employment and launch a successful career.” Yet the Dreamers-who are products of our public schools, members of our workforce and taxpayer base -aren’t eligible for these programs.

Cuomo should work to give Dreamers the same opportunities as their peers to go to college and become

the professionals that our state needs –more so now that they can legally enter the workforce. That would be the appropriate response from a governor of an Empire State.