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Queens Chronicle

State Dream Act faces uphill battle

Stripped of major provisions, bill inches toward vote in Legislature

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Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:32 am, Mon Feb 27, 2012.

After gaining some momentum at the end of last year, the New York State Dream Act, referred to committee in both the state Senate and Assembly, faces an uphill battle, especially in the Republican-led Senate, immigrant advocates and lawmakers say.

Before it was amended at the end of November and beginning of December, the bill included a slew of provisions, such as allowing illegal New York students to obtain state ID cards. Like the federal Dream Act, the state bill has always honed in on immigrant students in good standing who were brought to the country as minors.

Now the state bill focuses solely on granting non-U.S. immigrant students, both legal and illegal, access to public financial aid for higher education.

As hopes for a federal Dream Act have faded, immigrant advocates seemed to view the state Dream Act as the best vehicle for giving illegal students as many rights as possible, although only the federal government can grant citizenship. When the New York Board of Regents threw in its support for legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants access to state funds, the bill gained momentum.

But since it’s been amended, some are finding themselves disappointed with its limited scope, while acknowledging that cutting away the Dream Act’s more comprehensive and controversial provisions and honing in on the element with the broadest support has given it a fighting chance at passing.

“We knew we were going to have too much opposition,” explained Rocio Cruz, the staff director for Assemblyman Guillermo Linares (D-Manhattan), of the decision to amend the bill. Linares is the bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, which has a large Democratic majority.

“We’re pretty sure it’s going to pass the committee,” Cruz said, adding that the goal is to have the bill voted on at the end of this year’s legislative session, in May or June, to give it time to garner support.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), an outspoken advocate of the state Dream Act, pointed to the accompanying Dream Fund bill he introduced in November, which would set up a state-run nonprofit charged with administering private — not public — funds to would-be immigrant college students.

Because it lacks the public provision, it’s chances are much higher of passing, many indicated.

“There is a great deal of optimism that this bill will make it to the floor and become an important stepping stone in immigration policy in New York,” Moya said in a statement of the Dream Fund bill.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), a cosponsor of both the Dream Act and Dream Fund bills in the Republican Senate, also emphasized his support for the Dream Fund.

“The Dream Fund initiative Assembly Member Moya proposes would greatly expand the educational opportunities available to these young people,” Peralta said in a statement.

But for many of the illegal immigrants who would benefit from the Dream Act and their advocates, access to public education assistance is essential, as it’s the fight for more state and federal rights that is ultimately the goal.

“We need to move forward legislation that improves the lives of students in the State of New York,” said Natalia Aristizabal, a youth organizer for Make the Road, a pro-immigrant group with a Queens office. Aristizabal expressed frustration at the lack of change on the issue — the federal Dream Act, a version of which was first introduced in 2001, most recently came up for a vote last May. Aristizabal said all told, she has spent seven years fighting for the bill.

“It’s been very hard to continue to work so many years on this and see that it goes nowhere,” she said. Some members of Congress and other politicians “want to continue to pass laws to make life so miserable for immigrants.”

“New York could be an example for the rest of the country,” she added of passing the state Dream Act.

Only three states allow immigrant students access to public tuition assistance regardless of status: California, Texas and New Mexico, according to an October 2011 report by the National Immigration Law Center.

Gabriel Aldana, 24, a member of the New York State Youth Leadership Council, a Dream Act advocacy group largely made up of illegal students, said the organization has given up hope on a federal Dream Act passing in the foreseeable future.

Calling his own experience growing up undocumented as “damaging,” he said that despite the challenge of passing the Dream Act in the state Senate especially, his organization is hopeful. In addition to the Regents, Mayor Bloomberg, the State University of New York and the New School have all recently backed the bill publicly.

“We’ve garnered a lot of support,” Aldana said.

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1 comment:

  • Dave Francis posted at 11:13 pm on Thu, Feb 2, 2012.

    Dave Francis Posts: 0

    Nevada--has the same problems as the Sanctuary state of California, Arizona that has been overwhelmed by poverty from the large influx of illegal aliens. The only difference is the legislators in California and Nevada disregard their resident’s pleas for help and still pander to foreign nationals. That's why all Governors, Mayors and every official, who supports this growing plague must be removed from office. Every person who wants the 2006 real double fence, The Legal Workforce bill, recognized as E-Verify and The Citizenship Birthright Act amended should join the Tea Party or other strong advocates on this matter. Illegal immigration costs California $10.5 Billion annually, with Nevada annual fiscal burden of immigration to be approximately $630 million as according to the Heritage Foundation. Powerful interests in the state garner the benefits, while the average legal California family gets handed over nearly $1,200 annually. So what’s the real cost in Alabama or any of the other 47 States?

    Fortunately it just goes to show that legal immigrants especially generations of Hispanics are against illegal immigration and are for enforcement, by their positive vote in Florida for Mitt Romney. They too are suffering from the indignation as being blamed from the 500.000 that illegally enters America. Of course Nevada has its own set of problems, for it also has been flooded with illegal aliens. They have infiltrated the service industry, entertainment and worse hit of all—construction. Taking jobs for bonefide US citizens and legal residents, who were rejected as Contractors and sub-contractors could make more money from discount labor. They didn’t have to offer benefits to foreigners, who swarmed Nevada during the height of the real estate boom. Other then Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Gingrich and Paul cannot be trusted with their promises to the foreign nationals, as they are against the fence and are calling with a Path to legality--that is not what the general public want?

    In one of the latest polls Maine voters were asked about their views on legal immigration. A substantial majority of respondents, 59 percent, judge that overall levels "are too high and should be reduced," while only 6 percent believe immigration should be increased.
    Among the key findings of the poll:
    • 65% believe that illegal immigration negatively affects Maine.
    • 78% oppose in-state tuition subsidies and/or admission of illegal aliens to public universities.
    • 65% support state involvement in immigration enforcement, similar to policies enacted in Arizona and other states.
    • 43% believe illegal immigrants take jobs from American workers, while only 32% believe they fill jobs Americans will not do.
    • 59% support reducing overall immigration to the U.S., while only 6% support increasing immigration.

    In California and Nevada millions of jobs that should be in the hands of citizens, instead have been stolen by people from across the globe. Huge amounts of expenditures have been growing, because of careless use of Taxpayers’ dollars by politicians. Specific to Border States is the spiraling high cost of millions of illegal aliens pouring in, demanding equal rights to US citizens. 22 million Americans are out of work and President Obama has passed executive orders, so hundreds of thousands of unlawful migrants and immigrants without a criminal record can stay here. Farmers want the cheap labor, as they remain exempt for paying their medical issues or even their children's schooling. Democrats will look the other way in all elections, as illegal aliens are voting and will again through 2012. These are two unfunded mandates that the US government pays nothing towards, and state compliance laws is mandatory and forced upon Americans by the courts. The low estimate for paying for all these unfunded mandates annually is $113 billion dollars. Except to stay here, you have to have food, medical care and for their children and education. Staying here it means you have to commit a felony, as to find employment you must possess a legitimate Social Security number, unless the employer is committing an illegal act themselves. Therefore using some persons SSN is a victim of identity theft and that is a –FELONY.

    As a patriotic American people we cannot afford to stop pursuing full, mandated “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” or mandated nationwide E-Verify. Without it our countries businesses will be overrun by illegal workers in every sector of industry. The circumstances have now become so critical, owing to the millions of jobless citizens, legal residents that our government needs to insist full operation of the computer based application. E-Verify is a valuable tool that has expanded to a growing number of honest businesses that have participated in the removal of foreign nationals.

    There is toxicity amongst the Democrats and Republicans, who have an irrational view and are eager to destroy any immigration enforcement at our undermanned border or tourists who overstay deliberately. As it stands a path to citizenship, espoused as Immigration reform wants to legalize all those already here. Can anybody imagine if foreign countries supported their citizens that America would not be suffering the problems of foreign workers and their families crowding the emergency rooms of major cities, educating their children and feeding off the limited benefits afforded the US population? E-verify must not be undermined or thrown into the waste pit of good immigration bills?

    Phone 202-224-3121 is the Washington center switchboard, to express your infuriated feelings and anguish at Senators and Representatives of both parties. Obamacare for all Americans will be inundated with illegal immigrants and will just drive more of them into our nation. They keep declaring no health care treatment for any illegal people, but unl ess the mandated federal bill such as E-Verify is operational, then how can we distinguish from the legal population and those who have broken immigration laws? Under such a Congressional law, the long trek home will begin if illegal workers cannot find a job. Those business owners who fail to comply could end up in prison or fined millions of dollars? All immigration bills need to be passed before Obama tries to pass another failed amnesty, as in 1986.