"The Assembly Majority recognizes that immigrants are a vital thread in the social and economic fabric of our state," said Speaker Heastie. "It is fundamentally and economically misguided to deny students who were educated in our state's public school system the tools they need to reach their academic potential and fully contribute to our state's economy. When a student's education is cut short, every New Yorker suffers."
The New York State DREAM Act (A.9605, De La Rosa) would help ease the cost of higher education for children of immigrants in New York by eliminating potential financial obstacles to obtaining state financial aid for undocumented students seeking to attend an institution of higher education. Under the proposal, these students would be eligible for general awards, performance based awards, or New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funds if they:
"Today we stand with the DREAMERs, these students, many of whom were brought here through no fault of their own and know no other home than this country, are being denied access to the most basic resources they need to climb the economic ladder," said Assemblymember De La Rosa, sponsor of the bill. "Denying students financial aid denies them a college education, which for many, forces them to live a life of poverty in the shadows. I believe that education is a human right and these students deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential through education.
The legislation would also help immigrant families prepare for the costs of higher education by allowing an individual with a taxpayer identification number to open a New York State 529 family tuition account under the New York State College Savings Program.
Although federal law requires that every state provide primary and secondary education to all children regardless of their residence or immigration status, current New York State law prohibits these students from receiving state financial aid for higher education.
"Inaction in Washington has left Dreamers in a continuous state of limbo and uncertainty," said Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. "New York must step up as a leader and pass the DREAM Act to promote the academic success of all New York's students and to ensure that the anti-immigrant sentiments proliferated by the current administration in Washington do not stifle the success of our nation's youth and economy."
Assemblymember Nick Perry, chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus said, "With immigrants under attack from the White House, now more than ever, our state must step up and do what is right and show that New York is a place which still values and welcomes our immigrant population by passing the Dream Act. By passing this important bill our legislature can stoke the flame held by Lady Liberty in New York harbor, and continue to have her torch serve as a beacon of light for those yearning to breathe free."
"Higher education is the key to success in our economy, but college is expensive," said Assemblymember Ron Kim, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Task Force. "To deny Dreamers the same access to financial aid as their classmates because they were brought here as children at no fault of their own is just plain wrong. The DREAM Act will help make sure hard working students have the tools they need to make a college education affordable, and a bright future attainable."
Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Task Force said, "I have pledged to do everything in my power to protect our immigrant communities, and that means championing the New York State DREAM Act. Many immigrants come to our country for new and better opportunities to succeed and that includes educational opportunities. Education creates a pathway for our young immigrant men and women to succeed and to fulfill their aspirations. Without our government's support of immigrant students, I would not be here today. Immigrants have helped build our communities across New York, and it's critical that we protect them from the federal government's cruel policies. Last year, the DREAM Act passed the Assembly, but not the Senate. This year, I am calling on my Senate colleagues to step up and defend our immigrants who are a part of our communities and who deserve an opportunity to succeed in higher education and beyond."
"Every student deserves access to the golden door of endless opportunities," stated Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages, chair of the Task Force on New Americans. "Now, more than ever, New York State must pass the DREAM Act and implement policies that protect our immigrant communities. All students must have access to a quality education regardless of race, religion, or immigration status."
Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO said, "Now, more than ever, getting a college education is key to reaching our full potential which will ultimately make our state even stronger. It is time we ensure this opportunity is available to all children in this state which is exactly what the DREAM Act would do. I want to thank Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember De La Rosa for their leadership and the Assembly Majority for their ongoing support on this critical issue."
Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said, "Once again, New York's State Assembly is leading the way to expand opportunity for immigrant New Yorkers. We applaud the Assembly's resounding vote for the DREAM Act today, which marks a critical step in the fight to ensure equal access to higher education throughout the state. There is no better answer to the hate-filled policy proposals coming from the White House than to move forward strong, pro-immigrant legislation here in New York."
"We applaud the New York State Assembly for standing up for young immigrants and passing the DREAM Act," said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. "Now more than ever we must stand up for the immigrant students who can offer so much to our state and our country if we just give them the chance they deserve. Passing the DREAM Act will give them access to educational opportunities, which is good for them and good for all New Yorkers. We urge the Senate to pass this bill as well so that New York State can be a model for the rest of the country when it comes to giving young people the tools to build a brighter future for us all."
Antonio Alarcon, DACA recipient, Make the Road New York member and youth organizer said, "Thousands of Dreamers across New York State are counting on our state legislators to take this crucial step forward for equal access to higher education and pass the DREAM Act. We're excited that the Assembly will pass the New York State DREAM Act for the seventh straight year. Thousands of students graduate every year from our public high schools to become the first members in their family to go to college. Over the last seven years, the Assembly has understood the reality of those Dreamers and their families. In a time where Dreamers face continuous attacks from a xenophobic and racist administration in Washington DC, we urge the State Senate to immediately follow the Assembly's leadership and pass this critical legislation that will benefit the State economy. Giving access to financial aid to all young people, regardless of immigration status, is the right thing to do. It's also an investment in the future of New York, which will produce more future doctors, lawyers, chefs, and teachers for the State."
"NMIC is pleased to support the NYS Assembly and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa in the quest to pass the NYS Dream Act. We have every confidence that, under their leadership, NYS Dreamers will have the protections and support they so well deserve. #Immigrant NY," said Maria Lizardo, executive director, NMIC.
"The stakes couldn't be higher, and it will take leaders with the vision and tenacity to ensure that the NYS Dream Act passes this year," said Angela Fernandez, Esq., executive director, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights. "We applaud the NYS Assembly and Assemblymember De La Rosa their leadership and look forward to working with them to make this vision a reality for all of our NYS Dreamers."
"We applaud Speaker Heastie and Assembly Member De La Rosa for taking action for Dreamers, while the federal government holds them for ransom. Immigrants are a vital part of our social and economic fabric, and New York can and must be a model for the world by pushing forward with an unequivocally pro-immigrant agenda. In the Empire state, what you stand for, not where you come from, is what matters most," said Steve Choi, executive director, New York Immigration Coalition.