BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), the lead sponsor of the New York State Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, applauded the state Assembly for passing the legislation that provides state college financial aid to undocumented New Yorkers.
“I’m glad the Assembly passed the bill,” Peralta said. “It is time my colleagues in the Senate Majority follow suit and let our DREAMers truly live the American Dream.”
This bill will allow undocumented immigrants in NY to apply for state college tuition assistance. However, the bill has been passed for six years now by the Assembly, yet has stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
“I encourage all Senators to rise above politics and right this wrong,” Peralta said.
Peralta wasn’t too confident the bill would pass this year, and said he hoped it would be enacted in January if Democrats regain the Senate majority.
“The last time that it hit the floor, it had only failed by one vote,” Peralta said. “All of our Democratic members are on board this time around and hopefully in November we will gain two more.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo removed the DREAM Act and tax credit from last year’s budget in efforts to appeal to both the Democratic and Republican parties. Implementing the DREAM Act will cost approximately $27 million, which amounts to an average of a few cents annually for an average New York taxpayer.
“Let’s remember that the average college graduate makes more money and pays more in taxes than people who did not receive a higher education degree,” Peralta said. “This is clearly an investment in our future and one that more than pays for itself.”
The bill will not be able to provide funds for immigrant students to attend private Universities like Harvard or Yale. However, it will allow them to attend SUNY and CUNY schools with eligibility for TAP and other college fund assistance programs.
“It’s also an investment,” Peralta said. “Every individual with a bachelor’s degree brings in about $60,000 to taxes oppose to those without a degree. It’s a win-win. The better prepared our kids are, the better it will be for the state.”
Peralta said that Texas “beat us to the punch” when their former Republican governor, Rick Perry, invested in the DREAM Act.
“Getting this bill passed by our conservative Republicans, for me personally, will level the playing field,” Peralta said.
In Corona, many residents felt like the delay hasn’t been a delay and that the DREAM Act may not be passed at all.
“We’ve been fighting [for the DREAM Act] for a while now,” said Rebecca Guzman, a Corona resident with three children. “I have kids, who hope to attend college and are [worried because] they may not be able to. I don’t think [they’re] going to pass it.”
Another resident agreed, but feels as though the state Senate is just buying time until people forget about it.
“They don’t want to pass this act at all,” said Jeffrey Reyes, a Queens native. “The state Senate is buying time, they want everyone to forget and move on to less pressing issues, and so far it has worked, but not for those who it mostly matters to.”
Parents who have migrated to the United States in the hopes for better education fear that this may be true.
One parent stated that he can see the fight continuing way after Moya and Peralta are out of office.
“It’s politics, and when politics are involved, nothing gets done,” said Jason Morales, a parent of five and a native of Colombia. “I don’t think [it’s] too much to ask for education. This fight looks [like it will] be continuing for years, long after our [elected officials] leave [office].”
Those who aren’t affected by the DREAM Act delay still feel the connection to those who are.
“Education opens the doors for a lot of people, while those who were born in the U.S. can easily receive the education we want, those in other countries don’t have the same benefits,” said Jonathan White. “It’s not easy to live in this country and not have the same rights as others because you were born elsewhere. America was made by immigrants. We’re all immigrants, whether it is more recent or further back through our ancestors, so why can’t they receive fair education like the rest of us. If they really wanted this act to be passed, it would have been passed before the first delay. I hope change comes soon.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or email@example.com
Yvette Brown contributed to this article.