The New York State legislature passed the Jose Peralta DREAM Act earlier this week. The bill’s namesake, the late state Senator Peralta, championed for this law, which will set aside $27 million in tuition aid for undocumented immigrants seeking a college education.
“For too long, bright young immigrants have been locked out of educational opportunities,” said New York State Senate bill sponsor Luis Sepulveda. “This hardship is due to an immigration status assigned to students as minors by a broken system. Calling them illegals is inherently unfair, inherently inhumane, and inherently un-American.”
The DREAM Act was first introduced to the New York Legislature in 2013, but always failed to pass with a Senate Republican Majority. Senator Robert Ortt still opposes the bill.
“Today it’s college tuition, tomorrow its driver’s licenses, and one day it will be voting rights. Those are all things that I find not only abhorrent but actually undermine federal law. It’s a federal law that existed long before the current administration no matter what some folks want to believe,” Ortt said.
Majority Democrats in the Senate like Robert Jackson say it’s a matter of fairness.
“There are scores of undocumented youth who talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Their immigration status should not be created as a barrier to reaching those goals. Passing this legislation will open. The door to uplifting these communities,” Jackson said.
The bill passed the Senate by a 40-20 vote.
In the Assembly the Jose Peralta Dream Act had opposition. Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis says she finds it hard to justify a yes vote to her constituents.
“I really believe that this is a misguided attempt here to really reject the needs of those that actually elected us to be here and putting those that are here unlawfully ahead of them,” Malliotakis said.
But Democrat Assemblymen Phil Ramos says his GOP colleagues are playing politics.
“When we get into this argument about standing on line, they should be before others. All children are equal in my eyes and I believe in Gods eyes,” Ramos said. “If we can expand a child’s education, I think that is our job as legislators.”
The bill passed the Assembly 90-37. The Jose Peralta Dream Act is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk, a bill he’s expected to sign.