February 12, 2013

Assembly Higher Education Committee
Approves New York DREAM Act

Comprehensive Measure Would Allow Immigrant Youth to Apply for
College Financial Aid and Create Private Scholarship Program

Javascript is required to view the video...
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (at podium) holds a news conference following the Assembly Higher Education Committee's passage of the DREAM ACT. Silver discussed the benefits of the DREAM Act as both an investment in the state and also in young immigrants who want to pursue a college education so they too can achieve the American dream and contribute to the state and nation's greatness. Silver was joined by Assemblymembers Deborah Glick; Philip Ramos; Francisco Moya; William Scarborough; Herman D. Jr., Farrell; Patricia Fahy; David Weprin; Steve Cymbrowitz; and Luis Spulveda and advocates of immigrant organizations.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah J. Glick, and Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya announced today the Assembly Higher Education Committee passed, with overwhelming and bipartisan support, the New York DREAM Act (A.2597), a significant step forward for the measure which would allow immigrant youth to apply for state tuition assistance and financial aid.

Silver, Glick and Moya were joined at a Capitol news conference by representatives of several immigrant advocacy groups to mark the committee's approval and the continuation of the Assembly's longtime commitment to the educational support of immigrant youth.

In addition to increasing access to the state's higher education aid programs, the act would establish a Dream Fund to help provide private financial aid for individuals looking to enhance their career opportunities with a college education.

"Not only is this DREAM Act about helping young people realize the benefits of a college diploma, but it is also an investment in our state," said Silver. "The DREAM ACT will help these 'DREAMERS' acquire the skills necessary for the jobs of the future so they, like the immigrant generations before them, can help build on and contribute to this state and nation's social, academic, cultural and economic greatness."

"For the state's immigrant youth, their path to the American Dream has many obstacles but through the DREAM Act, they will have a greater opportunity to overcome those barriers and access the financial support they need to pursue a college education and make their dreams come true," said Glick.

"Since I first began working on DREAM legislation in the Assembly, it has been clear that this body and its leadership fully understand the magnitude and life changing implications this bill carries for thousands of young New Yorkers," said Moya. "Today, we move beyond one hurdle in opening up our educational system, following in the footsteps of progressive leaders that have fought for equality before us, and allow youth that know no other home than New York State the chance to succeed at achieving their American Dream."

The DREAM Act, which was introduced by Assemblymen Moya earlier in the year, would provide immigrant youth with access to the state's educational opportunity programs, including the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), and the Opportunity Programs available at community colleges.

The bill's DREAM Fund component would benefit children with at least one immigrant parent, providing them with access to privately funded scholarships. It also would establish a DREAM Fund Commission to raise private funds for scholarships to help eligible immigrant youth pay for a college education.

The bill would also allow immigrant youth to save for college through the New York State College Tuition Savings (529) Program. Under the bill, the 529 Program would be available to immigrant families and individuals who provide a valid taxpayer identification number.

"By moving this comprehensive state DREAM bill forward, Speaker Silver, Assemblymember Glick, chair of the Higher Education Committee, and Assemblymember Moya are opening up educational opportunities for New York's undocumented youth," said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director, New York Immigration Coalition. "Today's vote builds on the momentum for passing NY DREAM that was set in motion by diverse voices such as the Board of Regents, the New York State Education Department, SUNY, and CUNY as well as labor unions, faith leaders, business leaders, and student groups. Now we look to the Senate and the Governor to go the distance and make this DREAM a reality."

"Hispanic Federation is proud to stand with Speaker Silver, Chairwoman Glick and Assemblyman Moya as we call for passage of a comprehensive NYS DREAM Act (A.2597/S.2378) that would 'green light' both public and private funds to support immigrant youth in their quest for a higher education," said Jose Calderon, president, Hispanic Federation. "While establishing a DREAM Fund will aid many students, providing access to the state's Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) will ensure educational equity for undocumented students who graduate from New York State high schools and go on to attend colleges in the state. It's the right thing to do for our children and our economy."

"The New York State DREAM Act is an important step on the road to common sense immigration reform across our state -- and our nation as a whole," said Hector Figueroa, president, 32BJ SEIU. "It will be a dream come true for thousands of bright, undocumented young men and women who are among the leaders of tomorrow. We urge New York to do the right thing and open the door for these young people to lift themselves and their families into the middle class and help grow our state's economy."

"On behalf of DREAMers in NY, I want to thank Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, chair of the Higher Education Committee, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya for supporting our dreams," said 17 year old Katherine Tabares, a DREAMer and member of Make the Road NY. "It is unacceptable that families and single mothers like mine have to work day and night in order to save money to accomplish my dreams. The NYS Dream Act must become a reality because if you invest in education, you will be investing in the future of New York State."

"All students should be given the chance to go to college," said Emily Park, an undocumented young adult who recently graduated from Queens College and currently works as a youth organizer at the MinKwon Center for Community Action. "I was one of the lucky few able to finish my degree in four years. Many of my undocumented friends must take significant time off -- some up to a decade -- because they cannot afford higher education. We cannot ask them to put their dreams on hold any longer. New York must pass the comprehensive state DREAM bill this year. Now is the time to pass the New York State DREAM Act and Fund. Please do not ask us to delay our hopes for a brighter future another year."

"Passing the comprehensive NY DREAM Act is a matter of social justice and educational equity. We are grateful for the leadership that Speaker Sheldon Silver, Higher Education Chairperson Deborah Glick, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya demonstrated, ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) without delay," said Kevin Stump, coordinator, NYPIRG's Higher Education Program.

The Assembly's DREAM Act would place New York among only three other states, Texas, New Mexico and California, who permit college-bound immigrant children to have access to state funded financial aid.