May 1, 2012

Assembly To Pass Legislation Creating New DREAM Fund to Help Children of Immigrants Realize Their Educational Goals

Historic Legislation Gives Children of Immigrants
Greater Opportunities for Education and Growth

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Speaker Sheldon Silver (at podium) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (Silver's left), the lead sponsor of legislation to establish the DREAM Fund Commission, held a news conference prior to the Assembly's passage of the measure today. Silver and Moya said the bill would help the state's immigrant youth have access to a higher education so they can have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

They were joined by other members of the Assembly Majority and advocates for the children of immigrants, including (From left, first row) Assemblyperson Deborah Glick, Katherine Tabares of Make the Road New York, Assemblyperson Marcos Crespo; (Second row) Assemblymembers David Weprin, Nelson Castro, Vanessa Gibson, Philip Ramos, Nick Perry; and (Third row) Alec Brook-Krasny and Samuel Roberts.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Francisco Moya today announced the Assembly will pass legislation to create a DREAM Fund to help children of immigrants pay for college. Silver and Moya said that today’s measure takes the first step toward giving children of immigrants access to the American dream by advancing their educational goals and opportunities through privately-funded scholarships and broadened access to family tuition accounts.

"This legislation supports the dreams and academic aspirations of the children of immigrants at no additional cost to taxpayers," said Speaker Silver. "These are young adults striving to climb the ladder to success and this legislation will reduce the cost of education and make it easier for our hardworking immigrant families to save for college."

The legislation (A.8689B) creates the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Fund Commission which will raise private funds to provide scholarships to college-bound children with at least one parent who is an immigrant. The fund will make family tuition accounts available to anyone who provides a valid taxpayer identification number.

"As long as there has been the United States of America, there has been one overriding American Dream: that people could come here, from around the world, and they would have the opportunity to work hard and build a better life for their families" said Assemblyman Moya. "The DREAM Fund Commission will keep that dream alive for children of immigrants with the potential to achieve greatness. This is also a critical step towards ending the discrimination against children of immigrants that is currently drawing nationwide attention. I applaud this legislation and my colleagues in the Assembly for taking a pioneering approach and supporting the American ideal held in the dreams of our immigrant communities."

The commission would be comprised of 12 members that reflect the racial, ethnic, gender, language, and geographic diversity of NYS and include college and university administrators, faculty and other individuals committed to advancing the educational opportunities of the children of immigrants.

The family tuition accounts have been federally approved since 2002 and are similar to state-run programs in California and Illinois. The account is administered and investment choices are made by the NYS comptroller. These accounts allow for systematic savings, making it easier for New York’s hardworking immigrant families to save for their children’s futures.

"All children deserve equal educational opportunities," said Assemblyman Moya. "By creating more financial-aid options for the children of immigrants, this bill helps level the playing field. I am proud to announce this legislation on behalf of the tens of thousands of immigrants living in New York today."

"Just last week, I was outside of the US Supreme Court expressing my outrage that anti-immigrant bills like SB 1070 in Arizona can lead to the mistreatment of immigrants like my mother and I," said Katherine Tabares, a DREAMer from Colombia and honor student in a high school in Queens. "But, today, I join my fellow members of Make the Road New York to congratulate the New York State Assembly, and in particular Assemblyman Moya, for taking the first step to make New York a more welcoming place for immigrants by passing the NYS DREAM Fund. I hope that members of the State Senate pass the DREAM Fund in their chamber soon, so we can get much needed resources to accomplish our dream of obtaining a higher education."

"We applaud Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the rest of the NYS Assembly for passing the NYS DREAM Fund," said Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. "We will work tirelessly now until the end of session to ensure that the DREAM Fund passes the NYS Senate."

"The passage of the DREAM Fund is an important milestone for our children, families and community. The Fund will allow deserving immigrant students an opportunity to fulfill their dreams of attaining a higher education," said Jose Calderon of the Hispanic Federation.