BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
The New York State DREAM Act may be closer to becoming a reality this year.
Both State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said this year may mark a victory for the dreamers, because they see viable support among the State Senate to pass the bill.
The DREAM Act would allow undocumented students who meet in-state tuition requirements access to state financial aid, such as the Tuition Assistance Program, and scholarships for higher education.
Passing this bill would allow the thousands who have attended New York schools from kindergarten through 12th grades to come out of limbo after graduating high school, ineligible to receive federal tuition assistance, scholarships, grants or loans, Moya said.
Peralta said with the four members of the Independent Democratic Caucus fully supporting the bill, they are getting closer and closer to their goals.
“We need 32 votes to make this a reality,” he said. “If we can get one Republican [State Senator] that puts us at our magic number, then it’s smooth sailing in the [State] Assembly.”
A total of $25 million would go into the education budget under the DREAM Act, which is the equivalent of two percent of the overall TAP budget and only 0.01 percent of the State’s annual education budget, Moya said.
Moya added that many have misconceptions about the bill and it stems from not fully reading or understanding the bill.
“This will not take away spots from citizens of the country. These dreamers have to meet a certain criteria just like everyone else does. They have to have a certain academic and economic threshold,” he said.
“If you graduate from college, you are going to earn more money and then you are most likely going to stay in New York State, you are going to pay into taxes; you are going to get a better paying job. So the State actually ends up winning,” Peralta said.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.