Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, sent a letter Monday to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to express his concerns over the legislative leader's support for Assembly bill 10807, which would allow illegal aliens who "meet certain criteria" to receive higher education subsidies at taxpayer expense.
Ceretto argued that the bill would increase costs to the state's already overburdened taxpayers. Ceretto noted that, if there were 90,000 illegal immigrants in New York state, and all were eligible to receive the maximum TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) benefit of $5,000, it would cost taxpayers $450 million annually.
"As the grandson of immigrants, I understand the importance of legal immigration laws and have firsthand knowledge of the cultural and economic benefits that immigrants have brought to our country," Ceretto said. "However, with families in my district struggling to make ends meet, who desperately could utilize this funding, I cannot support this bill. Those children should come first."
Under the bill, illegal aliens who qualify for "deferred action status" will be allowed to access tuition-assistance programs that are currently prohibited for the undocumented. The legislation requires the New York state commissioner of education, in conjunction with the president of the Higher Education Service Corporation, to create an application to qualify students for New York state programs if they cannot apply for federal aid.
"This bill requires greater sacrifices from hardworking Western New York families - the same families buried under thousands of dollars of student-loan debt and facing a struggling economy," Ceretto said. "Rather than spend hundreds of millions of dollars to send illegal aliens to college, I believe the Legislature should be working to pass legislation to provide greater employment opportunities for New York's college graduates, lower the cost of living for struggling families and improve our faltering economy.
"I will not support this legislation if it ever comes to the floor for a vote."