New York is to give tuition discounts to illegal immigrants living in the state, continuing a legacy of providing education to new arrivals who seek to make their way up the social ladder.
The move came as federal officials tightened restrictions on international students in the US in the wake of September 11.
Under the plan, approved by the New York state legislature, illegal immigrants who have attended a New York secondary school for at least two years will be eligible after they have graduated for the low rates charged to in-state residents attending the public City University of New York (Cuny) and State University of New York (Suny).
The step coincided with a federal crackdown on illegal immigrants, and tightened visa rules that made it harder for foreign residents to study in the US at all.
To qualify for the discount, students at the New York schools would have to pledge to seek legal-immigration status.
"I take great pride in Cuny's historic role as a ladder of upward mobility for many generations of immigrants," chancellor Matthew Goldstein said. "Our city, state, and nation have greatly benefited as a result."
Public universities in New York stopped allowing undocumented students to qualify for resident tuition last year, after the federal government decreed that it could not do so unless Americans from other states were given the same discount. Individual states were able to opt out of that restriction.
In other states, including California, residents have voted not to allow illegal immigrants to attend public universities at the low rates charged to residents.