Thousands to Press for NY DREAM Legislation
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
ALBANY, N.Y. - Immigrants and their allies head to the state Capitol to push for passage of so-called "DREAM" legislation.
Three states already provide tuition assistance to undocumented students, according to Osman Canales, co-founder of the Long Island Immigrant Students Association. Canales will be among the thousands expected in Albany, urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make New York number four. He says that would help up to 200,000 undocumented students and give a boost to New York's economy.
"Passing the DREAM Act is an investment in the future of our state, because they are going to be the future leaders, the future doctors, the future teachers of our communities."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed DREAM legislation, but so far Cuomo has reserved comment.
The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates it would cost about $17 million a year to give tuition assistance to undocumented students, but points out that better-educated graduates would help provide a better tax base and other economic benefits.
"Wendy" is an undocumented recent graduate of Nassau Community College who chose not to share her last name. She was brought to the United States from Peru at age 6 and is hoping her 3.9 grade-point average will allow her to pursue a four-year degree - although she calls her options "severely limited."
"My grades were always very, very, very good, and I always figured my grades were my way out of the situation - without knowing, of course, that college would be so expensive and that my grades really weren't the way out, in terms of the thousands of dollars that you have to pay."
Because she is undocumented, Wendy cannot apply for student loans. She says the only money she has received is from scholarship contests in which her immigration status is not an issue.
DREAM stands for "Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors."
The Fiscal Policy Institute study is online at fiscalpolicy.org. Information on the Island Immigrant Students Association is on its Facebook page, facebook.com/pages/Long-Island-Immigrant-Students-Association-LIISA/109269192463095.
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