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Immigrant Youth Rally at Governor Cuomo’s Office to Say: Make our DREAMs Come True; Include the NY DREAM Act in the Budget!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York City  (Thursday, March 14, 2013)

Immigrant Youth Rally at Governor Cuomo’s Office to Say: Make our DREAMs Come True; Include the NY DREAM Act in the Budget!

With state budget negotiations expected to end as early as this Friday, undocumented immigrant youth and community leaders rallied loudly outside Governor Cuomo’s office today to demand that New York State DREAM legislation be included in the final budget.

The Assembly has included $25 million in its budget to fund the New York State DREAM Act, which would open up tuition assistance for higher education to undocumented youth. The measure has gained broad-based support across the spectrum, with leaders from labor, business, faith, and education sectors joining with immigrant youth and other advocates to press for this commonsense measure,

The Senate, however, did not include this amount in its budget bill, and Governor Cuomo has been silent on the NY DREAM Act since its introduction in 2011. Advocates today urged the Governor and Senate co-Majority Leaders Jeffrey Klein and Dean Skelos to follow the Assembly’s lead and include the DREAM Act in the state budget so that all New Yorkers’ dreams of higher education can be realized.

Chung-Wha Hong , executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said, “New York has always been a leader on immigrant rights and equality issues nationally – but in expanding educational opportunity to all students, New York has catching up to do. States such as Texas, California and New Mexico already guarantee equal access to financial assistance for higher education. Immigrant communities are growing increasingly frustrated by the silence coming from the Governor; we can’t ignore the lack of leadership in the Senate. We are here to make some noise so Governor Cuomo and the Senate leaders do the right thing and do New York proud by including the DREAM Act in the budget. ”

[Photo Above] Jackie Vimo, director of advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition, urges Governor Cuomo and Senate co-Majority Leaders Klein and Skelos to put NYS DREAM in the budget.

"Passing the NYS Dream Act would be a moral victory for every person in the state. The undocumented young people who attend CUNY and those who aspire to attend CUNY are highly motivated, talented students with tremendous potential. With access to financial aid and opportunity programs, they will have the chance at a better life that is the right of every New Yorker," said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress.

[Photo Above] Jim Pearlstein, co-chair of the Professional Staff Congress speaks.

"We strongly urge Gov. Cuomo, Senate Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein to include the DREAM Act in the state budget so thousands of New York's undocumented college students can receive college tuition assistance and realize their dreams of finishing school and going on to good jobs to help themselves and their parents," said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “Immigrant workers, documented or not, pay taxes that among other things finance federal and state aid programs for needy students of all backgrounds – born here or abroad. It is only fair that all of their eligible children have access to the very programs their parents contribute to.”

"We are grateful for the leadership of Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Moya in stepping up to include the NYS DREAM Act as part of the state budget," stated Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation. "We urge the Governor and Senate to exercise their leadership and support a final state budget that includes the DREAM Act that opens up the state Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to all immigrant youth. The time is now."

"Students from across the state have made it clear that granting undocumented youth access to TAP is a must-have in this year’s budget," said Kathleen Jordan, chair of NYPIRG's Board of Directors.

[Photo Above] Kathleen Jordan, Board Chair of NYPIRG, speaks about important of tuition assistance for students regardless of status.

“As a DREAMer advocating for equal access to higher education, I am deeply disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s refusal to include the New York State DREAM Act in the budget,” said Emily Park, a recent DACA recipient and youth program associate at the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “Supporting the Dream Act is not only in the economic interest of our state, it is the morally right thing to do for the undocumented youth who are the future leaders of our community. I urge Governor Cuomo to restore the funding the Assembly has included for the New York State DREAM Act, and cement the Empire State’s reputation as the nation’s gold standard for immigrant rights.”

[Photo Above] Emily Park, DACA recipient and youth program associate at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, speaks about why NYS DREAM legislation is important for undocumented New Yorkers like herself.

“In his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo charted a progressive course for New York based on the principles of justice, compassion and equality of opportunity – principles fundamental to the teachings of New York’s diverse faith communities and our nation at large,” said Diane Steinman, director of the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform. “On behalf of the NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform, I call on the Governor to stay true to these principles by promoting passage of the NYS Dream Act and including its funding in his budget, so all qualified young people in our state can afford the education they need to flourish and help build the New York of tomorrow.”

[Photo Above] Diane Steinman, speaks on behalf of the NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform.

Antonio Alarcon, youth leader at Make the Road NY, said, "The NY Dream would allow undocumented students like me to get a better education in the state of New York and achieve my dreams. We are the future of the New York economy and the future doctors, lawyers, and professionals of this state.”

[Photo Above] New York State DREAM Coalition rallies outside Governor Cuomo's Manhattan office.

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