Supporters of the New York State Dream Act say everything hinges on the state Senate – and the Long Island delegation could make all the difference. They lost a round last week, but Anita Halasz, executive director, Long Island Jobs with Justice, is still in the fight to get the financial aid for undocumented students into the final budget. She said the eight senators who represent Long Island could be the keys to passage.
“We’re about 5 votes away, so Long Island is a very crucial part of this, being as we have so much voting power on Long Island. To get our lawmakers here to support the bill is monumental,” Halasz said.
The state Senate declined to include Dream Act funding in its version of the budget last week, but both the Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have indicated they are likely to say yes, if the state Senate gives thumbs-up to including it in the final budget.
Marcy Suarez is a high school senior from Brentwood and a youth member of Make the Road New York. She said she was devastated by last week’s Senate action, which could force her to put college on hold for a year or two, but she is not giving up.
“I know that having so many kids with just a high school diploma doesn’t get a good enough job, but when kids manage to go to college and are willing to work as hard as I have been working, the jobs will be available to them to better our economy,” Suarez said.
Halasz urged New Yorkers to keep pressing state lawmakers, if they do not want to remain behind states like Texas when it comes to offering equal educational opportunity.
“The strongest message is, yes, New York is missing out,” Halasz said. “This is talent that is being wasted and these are opportunities that are not being offered to hard-working and very intelligent students who want to contribute to our economy in a very meaningful way.”
Lawmakers in Texas, New Mexico, California, Washington state and Minnesota already have passed Dream Act measures in their states.
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