NY Regents Pursue Policy Allowing Undocumented Teachers

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The New York Board of Regents has released a new policy that says undocumented immigrants in the state will be allowed to apply for teacher certifications and professional licenses, reports Joseph Spector of USA Today.

New York education policies are overseen by the board, which voted to permit people who are unable to receive legal residency due to their parents’ immigration status to attempt getting teacher accreditation.

The immigrants may also apply for licensing for any of the 53 other professions overseen by the state Education Department, which includes several medical professions, including pharmacy and dentistry.

“These are young people who came to the U.S. as children,” state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said 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.”

The board referred to the June 2012 Obama administration policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that allows requests from persons who came to the US as children and who meet specific guidelines to be considered for the deferred immigration act for two years, with renewal permitted.

On the US Department of Homeland Security website, officials say the department does not want to expend valuable time and effort on low priority cases, such as people who arrived in the US as children and meet other essential guidelines.

After a public comment period, the Board of Regents will finalize the regulation. There were some who oppose the action, however.

Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown, Westchester County) said that immigrants are lawbreakers and should not be allowed to teach or practice medicine in New York. He claimed this decision was another example of why unelected bureaucrats should not be allowed to ruin the state. He added that the next step would probably be a unilateral enactment of free college tuition for illegal immigrants.

Murphy could not understand why the state does not allow military spouses with teacher certification from another state to teach, but instead is “rewarding lawbreakers.”

But Gov. Cuomo (D) says he is waiting to see how the policy is written before he comments. He added that it had to be legal and constitutional.

Elia said this move will open up new pathways for these young people to pursue economic opportunity. Requirements for receiving certification and licensing will remain the same and will include classroom observation, student-teaching, and exams in several areas, writes Diane C. Lore for SILive.

The undocumented residents who were brought to this country by their parents as children, known as “Dreamers” in reference to the DREAM Act, were given immunity from deportation following an executive order in 2012.

The regents now find themselves in the unenviable position of being a part of the national immigration debate. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump says he will overturn Obama’s order as president.

Chancellor Merryl Tisch of the Board of Regents declared that the state should stop putting up “ridiculous barriers,” according to the New York Post’s Carl Campanile.