ALBANY, N.Y. – New York’s Board of Regents plans to allow illegal immigrants to teach in public schools.
The board, which oversees teacher certification and licenses for other professions, voted Wednesday to allow illegal immigrants to apply for and receive credentials to teach in The Empire State. The move will also open up the door to 53 other professional licenses, including those for medical professions, currently under the authority of the state Education Department, WGRZ reports.
“These are young people who came to the U.S. as children,” state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia wrote in a statement. “They are American in every way but immigration status. They’ve done everything right. They’ve worked hard in school, some have even served in the military, but when it’s time to apply for a license, they’re told, ‘Stop. That’s far enough.’
“We shouldn’t close the door on their dreams,” Elia wrote.
The decision is based on the same line of thought as President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allows certain children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country through “deferred immigration action” to pursue work or school.
A Board of Regents statement justified the decision to allow illegal immigrants to obtain professional licenses because “most of these individuals have no current mechanism to obtain legal residency, even if they have lived most of their lives in the U.S.,” according to a statement quoted by LoHud.com.
Aside from teaching certifications, the move will also allow illegal immigrants to gain licenses in the pharmacy, dentistry and engineering fields. It’s expected to take effect after regents hear comments from the public.
LoHud points out the change comes as state Democratic lawmakers continue to push for a New York “Dream Act” that would give illegal immigrants access to state financial aid, and those lawmakers applauded the Board of Regents vote.
“This is a tremendous win for New York’s students,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, said in a prepared statement. “The Assembly Majority has always led the charge to expand opportunities for every student sand we have championed issues like the DREAM Act and greater investment in higher education to show our commitment to all of the families who have made New York their home.”
The change could be in effect as soon as this summer, according to the approved proposal.
“It is anticipated that the proposed amendment will be adopted at the May 2016 Regents Meeting,” it reads. “If adopted at the May meeting, the proposed amendment will become effective as a permanent rule on June 1, 2016.”
The exact language of the proposal:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Title to the contrary, no otherwise qualified applicant shall be denied a license, certificate, limited permit or registration pursuant to this Title by reason of his or her citizenship or immigration status unless such applicant is otherwise ineligible for the professional license … under any other applicable federal law. Provided, however, that pursuant to (federal laws) no otherwise qualified alien shall be precluded from obtaining a professional license under this Title if an individual is not unlawfully present in the United States, including but not limited to individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals relief or similar relief from deportation.