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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Bronx college presidents to hold rally urging State Senator Jeff Klein to bring DREAM Act to a vote

Heads of Fordham University, Lehman College to join undocumented students at Thursday rally.

A pair of Bronx college presidents, and undocumented students from across the borough, will hold a rally Thursday to ask state Sen. Jeff Klein to stop gambling with the DREAM Act.

Rev. Joseph McShane, president of Fordham University, and Ricardo Fernandez, president of Lehman College, will appear at the rally at Lehman with the New York State DREAM Coalition.

The bill provides undocumented immigrants and their children access to financial aid and scholarships.

Klein has voiced his support of the Act, but believes legislation should be postponed until the tuition assistance can be funded with money from state casinos.

Both colleges are in Klein’s district.

“There is no reason for him to wait,” said Janet Perez, 21, a senior at Lehman.

“It’s too uncertain to wait for the casino money. It’s not really him giving concrete support for the bill.”

If the bill were to pass, Perez, a graphic design major, would be one of the approximately 146,000 youths who have been educated in public schools that would be eligible to receive financial aid for college.

“I am the first of my family to go to college,” Perez said with pride.

“It’s crucial for undocumented students to get some sort of help because we are already at a disadvantage.”

Some 4,500 undocumented students graduate from New York high schools every year, but less than 10% attempt to earn a college degree.

Immigration advocates [including advocates from Make the Road New York] were upset earlier this year when Klein failed to introduce the DREAM Act as part of the state budget.

“I believe that the DREAM Act would open up doors to a lot of young immigrants,” said Fernandez.

“CUNY is one of the most immigrant-friendly institutions in the country and it’s time for New York to join with other states in providing certain immigrants these incentives.”

As co-leaders of the State Senate, Klein and Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos have control over which bills make it to the Senate floor.

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