Supporters of immigrant tuition assistance call for action

Catherine Tavarez, a student at the International HS at LaGuardia Community College, speaks in favor of the Dream Act and the Dream Fund during a town hall meeting organized by state Assemblyman Francisco Moya.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Immigrant advocates met in Jackson Heights to find out how they could convince elected officials to back a measure that would make immigrants eligible for state tuition funding sources regardless of their legal status.

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act has not passed on the federal level, but state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) is the co-sponsor of a state version of the bill.

Moya said immigration status should not matter when it comes to education and noted that some immigrants drop out of college because they do not have the funds to continue.

“We cannot have that happen anymore,” he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is among those who support the bill, which allows young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally by their parents to tap into state financial aid for college.

Those who gathered Saturday at the Renaissance School, at 35-59 81st St. in Jackson Heights, heard from an immigrant student and a California state assemblyman, who got his state to pass its own Dream Act.

Catherine Tavarez, a 16-year-old senior at the International HS at LaGuardia Community College, who arrived in Queens from Colombia more than a year ago, has a 3.9 GPA but said she will have trouble paying for college because she cannot qualify for state financial aid.

“I want to go to college and that has been my dream since I was little,” she said.

Catherine said her father “gave up on us and went back to Colombia” and she only sees her mother three to four times a month because she is constantly working to support the family.

“She’s sacrificing a lot of things for me,” she said. “That would be perfect if the Dream Fund is passed.”

The Dream Fund would set up private monies that immigrants could use to attend college, even if they are in the country illegally.

“I want to get an education and I know that I will be an excellent student if I go to college,” Katherine said.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona) said he supports the state legislation.

“I had an opportunity to move ahead and go to college,” he said. “You should have an opportunity to move ahead and go to college. We need to all work together to make sure the Dream Fund become a reality ... because you are the future. We want to make sure you get that opportunity here in New York. The more that you’re educated, the more you can give back.”

California state Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, a Democrat who represents parts of Los Angeles, sponsored the Dream Act in his state and was able to form a coalition to get it to pass.

“This is truly an American story,” he said. “The law is clear that we have an obligation to educate our children regardless of their legal status.”

Cedillo said young students should not be penalized for their parents’ actions in coming to the country illegally.

“Your education is for life,” he said. “Your legal status will change.”

Cedillo said he was optimistic that New York will follow California.

“I’m really hopeful for you going forward because New York leads the way for so many issues on social justice, social change,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Reader Feedback

Dave Francis from Queens says:

TAXPAYERS ARE THE PAYEE FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS

It’s not condescending, but if you came to America by whatever means without permission of the People via the US government, you are violating this country’s sovereignty rights? I doubt if there is any country on Mother Earth, where you would not be imprisoned or immediately deported? Mexican laws have very strict statutes, that illegal entry is punishable as a Felony. Congress and being owned by special interests money doesn't impose a felony. It's a walk away "slap-on-the-hand punishment and then unless it’s a second entry after deportation, you can now walk away from being incarcerated--thanks to the executive order from President Obama. Life has been made so easy for foreign nationals, which they can even demonstrate in the streets, demanding rights without any recourse from ICE? They shouldn't even be here, but they are able to ride the welfare programs through a poor interpretation of the 14th Amendment. People come from every hemisphere after waiting years for a visa, but others steel in disguised as a tourist with unborn babies or just steal across our perforated border fence. Then they go about stealing somebody’s Identification to get a job, procure that persons credit.

Our once praiseworthy schools are now poorly recognized for performance, as they were 30 years ago. The top State for education originated in California and now it is somewhere around the bottom of the barrel. Millions who swarmed into Los Angeles County have turned it into miles of poverty stricken neighborhoods, without any countermeasures from the immigration police. Hospitals are hurting from unpaid treatments and Border States saw many of these institutions go bankrupt—another good example of unfunded mandates. Prez Obama is on hunt for more votes in 2012, so it makes major sense to fly off to Nevada, heavily populated with illegal aliens and a very poor set of voting regulations. Every American must be involved to oversee the outcome of every precinct and the value of Absentee Ballots that are easily forged. How can the United States government expect to support, the senior citizens, along with veterans, homeless and infirm citizens, when they are subsidizing 440 000 illegal alien infants annually. Why patriotic Americans who speak up for themselves should, be forced to feel guilty or defend their stance on illegal immigration. The Tea Party doesn't--that for sure, and rigidly holds the line on another blanket amnesty, sanctuary city policies, and dream acts, family chain migration or any other law, which eventually falls to the taxpayers in supporting unfunded mandates.

I think the President is in for a rude awakening as pro-illegal alien Democrats, Republicans lawmakers start to lose their seats in the Senate or House in the forthcoming months. Why should Americans be forced by the law courts to be the payee for the rest of the world? No matter for what issue, whether foreign or domestic policies? We must look to employing our own low income, white and blue collar labor and stop the incessant pandering to lawbreakers. Our Immigration laws are not broken as the Liberal press assures us, as they are either eating out of the hands of the newspaper owners or carefully manipulated by unions, non-profits and radical groups. With probably the most important Election in decades we must be seriously vigilant of no real movement on behalf of this administration, to stop non-citizens voting. They will and have driven by the re animated ACORN organization who are accomplished in fraudulent canvassing for votes. All would-be presidential candidates should be well aware of illegal aliens voting, specifically when they are very likely to be issued a deportation order. Of course if other states akin to Arizona are crushed by the iron hand of the Department of In-Justice, run by Liberal progressive Eric Holder who reputation is ruined by his involvement in the gun running carnival, which killed a US border Patrolmen? Simple and with no cost to taxpayers is the well documented “ATTRITION BY ENFORCEMENT.” Self-Deportation will commence when Aliens cannot support their families, with the implementation of Mandatory E-Verify.

Mitt Romney is certainly correct about E-Verify and its powerful influence would drive the illegal aliens home and nothing need be done except multiple lightening raids by ICE on businesses. His minions in the Justice Department have sued any state that has been fighting for financial survival and then plagued Conservative Governors Jan Brewer as she in most frontier States have been forced by the liberal judiciary to subsidize any impoverished person who squats in that state.

Two bills are ready to arrive at the floor of the House of Representative, which could injure the mechanism that awards criminal acts of illegal immigration. E-Verify --The "Legal Workforce Act" that can contain the 8 million working illegal aliens and will halt them in their tracks. The E-Verify program must be succeeding as 4 Democrats have now co-sponsored this bill and you should contact your federal or local lawmaker at 202-224-3121. A simple method of identifying who is hired by companies, that doesn't want to become a victim of incompetence,. They know full well that when this law is passed, they will be facing heavy fines, loss of assets and even time behind bars. A few citizens or authorized or lawful residents, which fall through the cracks, can find relief by going to the local Social Security office; aliens will flee, rather than entering a federal agency. Another bill less publicized by the Liberal press or other media, is the “Birthright Citizenship" amendment, which would offer no more foothold for the illegal parent or parents of children smuggled into America. No more easy preference for a pregnant Mother so she can immediately get public assistance, hospital birthing, food stamps or anything else given freely by our indifferent government. Whoever wins the presidency--Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or even Ron Paul must be held accountable, for every promise they declare to the public audience.

Make your own judgment for who you will vote for, whether a new state governor, a new state senator or those in the highest levels of government who have been secretive in pouring billions in taxpayer money to support the 20 million and more who have settled here illegally. Any search engine such as Google Yahoo will show you hundreds of reports on the real costs, graphs and other statistics. The power of the American people, that is the TEA PARTY, is sickened by the complete abuse of laws from the founding fathers. NumbersUSA has displays of grafts and the presidential hopeful’s grades on illegal immigration. Want to know how minority speaker deceived the system through her corruption; it is well illustrated in the legal watchdog pages of Judicial Watch. Want to know the nauseating cost if President Obama slips through a blanket amnesty, that’s found at Hermitage Foundation.

The TEA PARTY does not alienate any race or nationality as the Liberal media would like you to think? It just requests the 1986 Immigration law (IRCA) enforced and not altered to pander to illegal migrants and immigrants.

President Obama is pandering to these people for votes--illegal or a legal immigrant. Neither non-citizen can vote but WILL unless we introduce federal possession of a picture ID to vote. Learn more at NumbersUSA
Jan. 26, 2012, 11:11 pm

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