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

Undocumented immigrants push Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support the Dream Act

Antonio Alarcon [a member of Make the Road New York], 18, wants Gov. Cuomo to publicly back the state Dream Act so undocumented students like himself can get financial aid for college.

Young immigrants are flooding Gov. Cuomo’s phone lines and Twitter account, asking him to use his State of the State address Wednesday to call for tuition aid for undocumented immigrants.

The so-called New York State Dream Act, which has the backing of Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, would open the state’s Tuition Assistance Program to all college students, regardless of immigration status.

Jackson Heights teen Antonio Alarcon plans to make many calls and posts on @NYGovCuomo.

“The governor should be focusing more on the Latino community,” said Alarcon, 18, a student at LaGuardia Community College whose parents brought him to the U.S. illegally from Mexico at age 11. “We are looking for TAP. It would give a lift, to get financial aid. … We are expecting better things to happen this year.”

A coalition of immigrant groups sent the governor a letter about the issue Monday.

“We’re really making a big push for it to be included,” said Natalia Lopez, a youth advocate at non-profit Make the Road New York, which is hosting a Queens phone bank Tuesday.

The governor’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Undocumented immigrants qualify for state resident tuition for higher education — but they can’t currently get state-backed financial aid.

The bill, introduced last year by Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Harlem) and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares (D-Washington Heights), would change that.

It has bipartisan support in the city, but has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers, who say it would wrongly reward illegal immigrants.

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