Tens of millions of immigrants have struggled to legally come to the United States. Tens of millions more are waiting in line overseas, trying to immigrate legally. They've done the right thing, and that isn't easy. When we pass legislation offering state grants to illegal immigrants, we're sending the wrong message to all of those legal immigrants. We're rewarding the people who cheated the system. We're telling the people who played by the rules that they were foolish, that they could have just cheated. That's not a message the United States should send to the millions of people around the world who are dreaming about coming to America.
When American citizens themselves, including legal immigrants, are struggling to pay for college, Albany shouldn't ask them to put their tax dollars to tuition assistance for illegal immigrants. It's simply not fair.
Immigrants have been a vital part of the American story. We can't reward people who skipped the line. It's not fair to those who came here legally, and it's not fair to those waiting to come here now. The American Dream offers opportunity to those who work hard and play by the rules. We're sending the wrong message with this legislation.