BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
On Monday, the New York State Senate failed to pass a proposal to expand State-funded tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants by two votes.
Lead advocates for the bill, Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) and State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) remain hopeful that the much-awaited DREAM Act will hit the Senate floor for another vote during the final round for this year’s budget, within the next two weeks.
If enacted, the DREAM Act would have allowed all New York students to apply for financial aid for college, regardless of their immigration status. The bill failed to pass 30-29, but even that is a feat in itself, because Peralta said, “Six months ago, no one would have wagered that the DREAM Act would make it to the Senate floor in an election year.”
Peralta said the bill failed to see 32 votes mainly because of Albany politics.
“There are some Senators that have such a growing number of undocumented immigrants in their districts that this should be a no-brainer for them, but yet still the politics are shining as opposed to policy,” Peralta said.
Even though the DREAM Act has passed through the Assembly, passing it in the Senate has been cumbersome, Moya said. Moya said he urges each of his colleagues who voted against the DREAM Act, “to sit down with just one DREAMer and tell him, face-to-face, that he cannot go to college because they didn’t want to vote for the DREAM Act during an election year.”
Moya and Peralta also look to Gov. Cuomo for more support and encourage him to prioritize the DREAM Act. On Monday, Cuomo issued a statement relaying his disappointment for the Senate’s inability to pass the DREAM Act.
“I will continue to work with supporters, stakeholders and members of the legislature to achieve this dream and build the support to pass this legislation,” he said.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.