New York Governor Proposes Free College Tuition

(Originally posted on January 5, 2017, from Affinity Magazine)

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York proposed a plan that will enable hundreds of thousands of middle- and low-income New Yorkers to enroll in a state college for free.

Cuomo pledged that tuition fees would be covered for college students who have been accepted into a New York state or city university, including 2-year community college if their family earns $125,000 or less a year. If Cuomo’s proposal goes further, New York will be following in the footsteps of states such as Tennessee and Oregon, who have implemented programs to cover the costs of community college.

New York currently has one of the lowest tuition rates in America. It is estimated that current full-time tuition at four-year State University of New York schools for residents is $6,470 and for two-year community colleges, the cost is $4,350. Full-time costs for City University of New York schools are about the same.

Cuomo’s plan would include four-year schools, including dozens of campuses that are part of the state university system, as well as the city’s university system. In addition, the state would complete students’ tuition payments by supplementing existing state and federal grant programs, which are essentially covering the balance, although it is reported that administration officials said some students could have their entire four-year education covered.

The Governor proposed his plan at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens, whilst being accompanied by Senator Bernie Sanders, who called the plan, “a revolutionary idea for higher education.” Sanders also added that the plan “is a message that is going to provide hope and optimism for working-class families all across the state.”

Cuomo hopes that his plan can be implemented as soon as possible, with a three-year rollout beginning in the fall, with a $100,000 income limit, rising to $125,000 by 2019.

Currently, it is unclear how much exactly Cuomo’s plan will cost, but the administration estimated that the state’s annual outlay would be $163 million by 2019, however, this estimate will change depending on a number of people participating in this program. Around 400,000 students attend state or city universities full-time, but with a tuition-free system, this could increase the student population by 10 percent by 2019.

Cuomo stated, “This society should say, ‘We’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful. And New York State — New York State is going to do something about it.”


Donald Trump Bans People From Entering The US From Muslim Majority Countries


On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that prohibits immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim populated countries to enter America. Trump issued what he deemed as “extreme vetting” that intends to “keep terrorists out” of the United States.

Shortly after, the White House made the President’s executive order public, entitled, Protection Of The Nation From Foreign terrorist Entry Into The United States. This ban implements a 90-day ban on entry to America from citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. In addition, it prohibits the admittance of all refugees to the US for the duration of 120 days. Trump’s executive order also caps the total number of refugees entering America in 2017 to 50,000.

Refugees already have to go through an extreme vetting process that is highly rigorous, in order to enter the United States, which can take up to two years. It is estimated that the increase in conflict has resulted in the 15 million refugees worldwide. Developing countries host 80 percent of refugees. More than half of the world’s refugees came from just five countries, three of which are on Trump’s list of banned countries.

This ban is also allegedly expected to have substantial effects on people from those seven countries that already live in the US under green cards or on temporary student or employee visas.

Whilst a presidential candidate, Trump’s rhetoric repeatedly consisted of tackling immigration in America with extreme vetting processes, whilst calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration in the US. However, Trump’s administrations insist that the president’s actions aren’t targeted at Muslims or any specific religious group.

Syrian Refugee, Ammar Sawan who fled the war in 2012 told NBC news about his dream to live in America and how that now is extremely questionable. Sawan has a wife and three sons, who followed him a year later after fleeing the conflict. The couple also had a daughter, in Jordan, last year. In October, Sawan underwent the first round of security vetting for the possibility of being resettled in America. “My dream, even before the war in Syria, was to live in America,” he said. However, this may not be possible now, Sawan stated, “we are not terrorists and we don’t support terrorism.”

A report conducted by CATO Institute showed that since 1975 to 2015, people from the seven banned countries have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on American soil. However, there have been seventeen people from five of these countries that have been convicted of attempting to carry out terrorist attacks on US soil since 1975 to 2015, but zero Libyans and Syrians have been convicted of an attempted terrorist attack on US soil during that time period.

 Since Trump signed the executive order, an estimated 100 to 200 migrants, and refugees are being detained at airports or are being held in transit, which has lead to the ruling from federal Judge Ann Donnelly, New York, to have a temporary stop to deportations. This ruling will prevent the removal of people with approved refugee applications, valid visas, and “other individuals… legally authorised to enter the United States.” However, what will happen next in those airports is unclear. Thousands of people are protesting at US airports over Trump’s actions on immigration, many shouting, “Let them in!”

Trump wins US presidential election. 

Republican candidate, Donald Trump won the US presidential election, which was revealed earlier this morning. The unexpected result showed that Trump has defeated his democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, particularly in the South. However, Republicans didn’t just win the White House on Election Day. They also won both of the Houses and Senate.

The 70-year-old billionaire became a much heated topic when he began his campaign for the US presidential election in June 2016, in which he addressed imagration in America, proclaiming that Mexico was “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” 

Trump vowed that if he won the presidential election he was going to build a 40ft wall across the southern border, in which Mexico would pay the $15 billion bill to achieve this. He also stated that he will deport 11 million undocumented migrants.

Polls show that Trump had emonournous amount of voters that consisted of working to middle class, blue-collar whites that don’t have a college degree education. 

Trump beat Clinton among non-college degree whites by 21% in Colorado, 31 points in Michigan and 35 points in Missouri. And in Southern states he beat Clinton by 34 points in Florida, 40 points in Northen Carolina, 64 points in Georgia. 

Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton invested about $180 million in television ads in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, during the end of October, however, Trump still was extremely successful in those states. 

“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Ameicans”-Donald Trump states in his victory speech. Trump continues to states that “we are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we well put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.” 

Many are shocked and are in disbelief of the results, many taking their voice to Twitter, in which they compare this day to 9/11 after #RIPAmerica was trending on Twitter. 

International political leaders have responded to Trumps presidential win. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said that “president-elect Trump is a true friend of the state of Israel. I look forward to working with him to advance security, stability and peace in our region.” 

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May responded by stating that “we are, and will remain strong and close partners on trade, security, and defence.” 

CNN political commentator, Van Jones argues that “this was a whitlash. This was a whitlash against a changing country. It was a whitlash against a black president in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.”