Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) convened with fellow state legislators at his office Tuesday in a renewed effort to pass the Dream Act in New York state.
“Right now we’re calling upon not just the state Assembly, but also the executive chamber and governor’s office to step up to the plate and fight for the interests of all New Yorkers,” Kim said.
The Dream Act, which would give young undocumented immigrants state financial assistance to go to college, was passed by the Assembly in May, but was never brought before the Senate for a vote.
Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx), the de facto leader of the Senate and head of the Independent Democratic Conference, has said he supports the Dream Act, but that a permanent funding stream needs to be figured out before the bill is passed.
“I’m a first generation immigrant who has always been afforded quality education in public and private schools in Queens and New York City,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), who was born in Israel. “There is no reason why my next-door neighbor should not be afforded the same because she has a different immigration status than I. Today, New York is still failing our dreamers.”
The estimated cost of the Dream Act is $25 million, which the Assembly inserted into last year’s budget before the Senate took it out.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) stressed this amount was a small sliver of the state’s $136 billion budget.
“The cost is very minimal in the overall impact of the budget,” he said. “It’s peanuts.”
The lawmakers cited a Fiscal Policy Institute study, released in February, that claimed the New York Dream Act would cost the median taxpayer 87 cents per year. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) recently said the Dream Act was a vital program along with universal pre-kindergarten.
“Now is the time for us to do what’s right for all New Yorkers,” Moya said. “I believe in a New York in which immigration status should never be a barrier for undocumented students from getting a good quality education.”
S.J. Jung, president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, joined the lawmakers to voice his support for the Dream Act and to talk about his recent eight-day fast in Washington to push for immigration reform.
“We are asking our state government to invest in the future of our state by investing in our students. As you know, immigrant New Yorkers have long been a source of vibrancy and an economic boost to our state,” Jung said.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@
©2013 Community News Group
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