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New York State Dream Coalition Calls on Governor to include the NYS Dream Act in the 2014 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  (Monday, January 13, 2014)

New York State Dream Coalition Calls on Governor to include the NYS Dream Act in the 2014 Budget

Today, on the steps of the New York City Public Library, the New York State Dream Act Coalition (NYSDAC) called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to take action and include the New York State (NYS) Dream Act in the 2014 budget. The Dream Act would open New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to all students regardless of their immigration status. It would also allow all New York youth to access 529 tuition savings accounts, and establish a DREAM Fund Commission to raise private funds for a college scholarship program.

[Photo Above] Irma Cruz, an undocumented student at College of Staten Island speaks about why the New York State DREAM Act would help her and her peers.

The Board of Regents called for passage of the NYS DREAM Act in 2011 and the bill passed the Assembly last year with broad support from educators, labor leaders, business leaders, and immigrant communities only to stall in the Senate. Governor Cuomo has remained notably silent on the issue. In this year’s State of the State Address, the Governor spoke about the value of New York’s rich diversity, but failed to mention the New York State DREAM Act or the many challenges New York’s immigrant communities’ face. Now more than ever, as we wait for Congress to act on immigration reform, we need Governor Cuomo and our elected leaders in Albany to hear the call for equal access to an education for New York’s immigrant youth.

"Our city's young immigrants have waited far too long just for the right to learn, a right afforded to most of their fellow classmates throughout their educational careers. If we want to progress as a city, state and country, we need capable, intelligent individuals who have skill sets learned only in institutions of higher learning,” said City Council member and chair of the Committee on High Education Ydanis Rodriguez. “The longer we keep these doors closed, the longer we are telling thousands of brave students that they are not good enough to succeed in this state. The DREAM Act is imperative for our collective future and I implore Governor Cuomo to give this measure the attention it rightly deserves."

"’Diversity is what made us,’ Governor Cuomo rightly said at the conclusion of his State of the State address. His soaring praise of diversity was important, but it would have been more substantive if it had included a call for immediate passage of the NYS DREAM Act,” said Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing CUNY faculty and staff. "The Governor continued, 'While other states are building fences... We welcome the diversity.’ Not having access to financial aid is a sky-high fence for thousands of undocumented students; it's a barrier holding them back from their chance at a college education and a better life. For the sake of New York’s economic future, for the sake of its moral stature, this is the moment for the Governor to include the NYS Dream Act in the Executive Budget for 2014."

“The New York State DREAM Act is one of the NYIC’s top agenda priorities this year. Along with allies and fellow advocates, we will work tirelessly to ensure that all young people in New York regardless of status can pursue their dreams of higher education,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “By allowing access to financial aid regardless of status, New York can commit to the education of thousands of young people who will give back threefold to this state. We urge Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to seize the moment this year and step up for immigrant youth.”

[Photo above] Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, moderates today's press conference and says that the New York State DREAM Act is one of NYIC's top state priorites this year.

“We should be leading the way on this and instead we are falling behind,” said La Fuente executive director Lucia Gomez. “California, Texas, and New Mexico have some type of measure to assist undocumented students. New York needs to lead the way on this issue to set an example to the rest of our nation.”

“I support the New York Dream Act because it would allow young undocumented students in NYS the chance to afford higher education,” said Francis Madi, a graduate of Queens College, fellow at the Arab American Association of NY and a Long Island organizer for La Fuente. "Immigrant students should not have to choose between getting a degree or feeding their families.”

"As the largest undocumented youth-led organization in NY, we understand the absolute urgency for a NY DREAM Act to pass this year as every year it doesn't, more and more undocumented youth fall through the cracks” said New York State Youth Leadership Council campaign organizer Razeen Zaman. “The NY DREAM Act is a sound moral and economic investment and should be included in the Governor's budget.”

“A central ethical mandate in all of our faith traditions is the care for, and proper instruction of, of our youth, the next generation---assuring them the education, resources and environment to fulfill themselves as human beings, created in the image of God” said Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg, executive director of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition and leader of the Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform. “For this reason we in the faith community fully support the NYS DREAM Act, and strongly urge its passage.”

"I’m a Staten Island College Spanish Education major, who ever since I could remember, education has been my number one priority, the one thing no one can take away. I have learned that education is what molds you and provides the tools needed for life, family and most importantly the community” said DREAMer Irma Cruz. “With the passage of the New York State Dream Act many students like myself can access instate financial aid, graduate college on time and exercise our degrees without boarders or fear. I ask of you to please support our dreams and help us make a better tomorrow."

The New York State Dream Coalition is an alliance of labor, community, and student organizations working together to make the dream of education tuition equity and financial aid a reality for the undocumented students of New York.

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The New York State Dream Coalition is an alliance of labor, community, and student organizations working together to make the dream of education tuition equity and financial aid a reality for the undocumented students of New York.

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