The state DREAM Act has been dragged along like a loose shoelace for years as time after time the legislation is not voted through.
This year marks state Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya’s fourth attempt to pass the act that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented noncitizens applying to college on a needs basis.
“This is the best chance that we have to pass the DREAM Act this year,” Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said. “I’ve had the opportunity to speak with the governor on this act and we were a bit disappointed that it wasn’t included in the State of the State Address, but there is a dialogue happening.”
The four members of the Independent Democratic Caucus signed onto the Senate bill on Monday, pushing Peralta and Moya’s dream that much closer to becoming reality.
“I look forward to working with them in helping our Republican colleagues understand that the DREAM Act is the smartest investment that we can possibly make in workforce development and our state’s future, one that would pay for itself many times over,” Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who has passionately been trying to get his act passed for some time, said. “Their help in getting my bill to the Senate floor for a vote when the time comes will be critical to making the DREAM Act a reality.”
The DREAM Act has been the cause of controversy with certain groups but Moya and Peralta have mentioned on more than several occasions that objections are generally made by people who do not fully understand what the bill will affect.
“People don’t read,” Moya said. “They don’t understand what this bill does. If you think about it, we pay for undocumented immigrants throughout their lives through taxes. To now say that in their most important juncture that we are going to deny them access to tuition assistance is not right.”
The DREAM Act, if voted through, can be compared to the Tuition Assistance Program hundreds of thousands of college students apply for each year. TAP is based on need and is intended to provide low-income families the opportunity to send their children to college to further their education.
“The DREAM Act is the same way,” Moya said. “These students have to make a certain threshold academically and financially to qualify. Why would we deny these kids who came to his country on no fault of their own and who worked hard in school to get good grades the option to go to college?”
Moya said $25 million would go into the education budget under the DREAM Act — 2 percent of the overall TAP budget.
What may help Peralta and Moya’s case even more was the bill’s recent endorsement from Mayor de Blasio,
“I thank the mayor for his support and look forward to working with him and his team in winning passage of these important pieces of legislation,” Peralta, then commenting on another of his proposals, said. “Providing undocumented New Yorkers with access to driver’s licenses will make all New Yorkers safer by ensuring that everyone driving on our roads is properly credentialed and educated and is operating a registered, inspected and insured vehicle. It would provide undocumented immigrants with greater employment flexibility and make available to them additional opportunities to support their families.”