BUFFALO N.Y. (WKBW) New York State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, introduced a bill last week that would provide college financial aid to illegal immigrant families.
The move comes just days after the Federal government put into effect parts of the "Dream Act" that allows illegal immigrants to apply to work in the US without fear of deportation for two years.
In New York State, Speaker Silver's proposal would expand the State's Tuition Assistance program (TAP) and give illegal immigrant families the opportunity to apply for grants and low-cost school loans.
"We don't have enough engineers and scientists in this country," adds Silver. "If we have young immigrants, we need to give them the opportunity to a college education that will increase our pool and make New York State business better overall."
Critics of Sheldon's idea argue that money should be used to restore TAP cuts made in previous budget years.
Starting in budget year 2010-2011, TAP funding for graduate students was completely eliminated.
"I strongly oppose the measure for numerous reasons," says New York State Senator Mark Grisanti a Republican representing the 60th District.
"This is Shelly Silver trying to implement a mandate on the taxpayers of New York State that is not proper, and is taking resources away from those who came here through proper channels, and those who were born in the United States."
Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, a Democrat, is also not in favor of the idea.
"If we are going to do anything with education funds, I think it should be placed in TAP, and the tuition assistance program, and other areas that have been cut."