A group led by New York state Sen. Gustavo Rivera launched Monday a campaign that proposes awarding state “citizenship” to the estimated 2.7 million immigrants who live in the Empire State, regardless of their immigration status.
“We have failed with immigration reform nationally and what we want is to provide an opportunity for the almost 3 million people who live and contribute to the public treasury in our state to take part in its political, civic and economic life,” Rivera told Efe Monday before introducing the bill.
Dubbed the New York Is Home Act, the bill contemplates granting citizenship to immigrants who can show they have lived in the state and paid their taxes for the past three years, and who promise to obey state laws, continue paying their taxes and agree to serve on a jury.
Immigrants who fulfill these requisites will receive a new document allowing students to pay in-state tuition and receive financial aid to attend state universities, be eligible for healthcare under Medicaid, obtain a driver’s license, have the right to vote in local and state elections and even run for public office.
“We’re starting out here in New York but the idea is to extend this movement across the country to other states like California, Illinois and Texas, and to treat our fellow workers, students and store owners as they deserve,” Rivera said.
The campaign that kicked off Monday at Manhattan’s Battery Park, with the Statue of Liberty in the background, has the backing of political and religious leaders of the region, along with the support of organizations like the Center for Popular Democracy, Make the Road New York and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.