As the April 1 deadline for finalizing the New York State budget looms, reports surfaced Tuesday that the DREAM Act, which advocates have tried to push to become a law for years, may not be included in the state budget this year.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said he was “extremely disappointed” at the chance of it not making the cut, saying how Cuomo seemed to support the DREAM Act at the Somos El Futuro Conference in Albany last weekend.
“It’s dejavu all over again. Another year and the same outcome thanks to the intolerant views perpetuated by the Senate majority,” Peralta said in a statement. “They rather promote fear-mongering propaganda that the sky will fall if we, as a state, help the children of undocumented immigrants to obtain a higher education.”
The bill, which would grant college financial aid to unauthorized immigrants, passed as expected in the state Assembly at the beginning of March. But, Peralta faces a Republican majority that is against the bill this session.
With news that Cuomo, who has shown support for the initiative in the past, is not including it in the budget, advocates rallied, taking to Twitter and Facebook to express concern.
“@SenatorSkelos don’t shut the door on college 4 immigrant youth. #DreamAct is good economics,” tweeted Make the Road New York, referring to how state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s (R-Nassau)oppostion of the bill is a key factor in how it may not pass this session.
Eight members of the New York Immigration Coalition, another organization for unauthorized immigrants’ rights, rallied in front of 250 Broadway on Wednesday afternoon. Many “DREAMers” also began a hunger fast in protest.
Jackie Vimo, the director of regional advocacy at the organization, said that coming so close to the bill’s passing and then having it jeopardized has been traumatic for many young people.
“The New York Immigration Coalition still believes that this is not over,” she said.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, where it passed, also expressed disappointment.
“Right now, two of the ‘three men in the room’ negotiating the budget understand the importance of the DREAM Act and how it will benefit this state. Unfortunately, one of the three men has his head stuck in the sand,” Moya said of Skelos. “On the campaign trail, Gov. Cuomo made a pact with the people of New York — he said he would make sure the DREAM Act was signed into law.”
Many advocates have stressed that because college graduates are more likely to give back more to their communities in tax dollars, it would only cost taxpayers 87 cents each to allow 8,000 students to go to college.
“We are hardworking, talented young people who want to give back to our communities,” said Monica Sibri, a member of the CUNY DREAMers organization. “We call on Gov. Cuomo, Speaker Heastie and Senate Leader Skelos to give us a chance.”
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