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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  Cell Phone: 413 6875160,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
Albany, NY  (Tuesday, June 5, 2012)


 With 10 Days Left in Session, Immigrants and Labor Urge Cuomo, Silver and Skelos to Make DREAM Come True

Nearly 100 DREAM youth and their supporters from across the state gathered in Albany on the steps of the State Education Department building, joining labor leaders, elected officials, and other community members to urge Governor Cuomo, Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos to pass DREAM legislation. The DREAM Fund would provide private scholarships while the DREAM Act would provide access to the state-funded Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for eligible undocumented students.

“Making sure that all students in New York have access to sources of financial aid is part of a broader set of reforms to maintain a diverse, educated and highly-skilled workforce to drive economic growth,” said Héctor Figueroa, Secretary Treasurer of 32BJ SEIU. “As a nation of immigrants, we should embrace the diversity that has always been a unique and irreplaceable source of our strength as a country and state. With more than 120,000 members in eight states, including 70,000 in New York State, 32BJ SEIU is the largest private sector workers union in the state and one of the largest immigrant workers’ unions in the country.”

"Education is very important to our community,” said Mae Lee, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association. “Many of our families came to this country so that their children could get a better education, and become productive members of the country they now call home. We stand with others here today to urge our elected officials to pass DREAM legislation that will give all students access to financial aid and other scholarships for higher education."

Senator Bill Perkins said, “S.4179D, better known as the NYS DREAM Act, brings to mind the famous civil rights speech of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., commonly referred to as the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Great leaders during the era of civil rights embraced Dr. King’s message and helped usher in revolutionary legislation in spite of extreme opposition because these leaders knew the importance of doing the right thing. Just as great leadership was needed then, it is needed now for passage of the NYS Dream Act. We call upon Governor Cuomo to exercise his proven leadership and ensure that the NYS Dream Act becomes law this session. The NYS Dream Act will provide an opportunity for tens of thousands of youth in this great state to access the financial means that are necessary to help pay for college and ultimately achieve the American dream.”

“As a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations of immigrants, New York must show the nation that equal access to education for all individuals is not only core to our values but essential to our economic progress,” stated Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation. “We call on our New York State leadership to act now and urge them to pass DREAM legislation to help lift barriers to college for thousands of undocumented students. ”

Assembly Member Guillermo Linares said, “As we approach the end of this legislative session, it saddens me to see the lack of action from the State Legislature towards the passage on the NY Dream Act. New York State should not go another year without allowing these undocumented students rightful access to higher education, said Assemblyman Guillermo Linares. Although progress has been made, we must continue working tirelessly until we reach out ultimate goal, which is the passage of the New York Dream Act. I am hopeful that sooner rather than later we are going to have a victory and are going to be able to make the NY Dream Act a reality in 2012.”

"New York has always been and must remain a gateway to opportunity for all who seek it. The DREAM Act will allow New York to take the lead in a place where the federal government so far hasn't," said Senator Daniel Squadron, the original co-sponsor of the legislation. "It's time to ensure that every young person who wants to work hard and better our society has the chance to do so."

"It is imperative that the legislature and Governor Cuomo do the right thing and pass legislation this session to allow equal access to education for all,” said Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, Executive Director of La Fuente. “The silence for support of Dream legislation is troubling at a time when diversity in student enrollment at CUNY senior colleges is diminishing."

The DREAM Act and the DREAM Fund will allow students like me to be able to pay for school,” said Francisco Curiel, Student Leader of Make the Road NY. “There are few scholarships out there and I want other DREAMers to have the college opportunity so they can grow as students and lead in their communities and create the change we need.”

Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, thanks. "We strongly leaders in Albany to pass DREAM legislation (the DREAM Act and the DREAM Fund) this legislative session. All young people in New York State deserve affordable higher education, and healthcare workers and all New Yorkers will benefit from a better educated labor force."

Emily Park, a student at Queens College and DREAM Fellow at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, said, "All students should be given the chance to afford to go to college. Now is the time to pass the New York State DREAM Act and Fund, which must be passed together. Please do not ask us to delay our hopes for a brighter future another year."

“The Governor, Majority Leader Skelos, and Speaker Silver have ten days till the end of the legislative session, and ten days to put New York on the map for doing the right thing and passing DREAM legislation," said Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "New York is rightfully proud of its legacy as a place that welcomes immigrants and acknowledges their contributions; now the state needs to live up to that legacy and extend state tuition assistance to all students, regardless of immigration status. Just because DC has been paralyzed doesn't mean New York State has to sit idly by."

"Though Federal DREAM legislation deals primarily with immigration policy - state level DREAM legislation seeks to grant undocumented students access to affordable higher education," said Kathleen Jordan, Brooklyn College student and chairperson of New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)'s board of directors.

As student and New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) core member Melissa Garcia Velez stated, "Not qualifying for financial aid, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and most scholarships, makes completing college an obstacle course very few have the privilege of finishing. This ongoing cycle has stalled the potential of many undocumented New York youth who anxiously wait for the chance of obtaining a higher education. The NYS Youth Leadership Council urges immediate action from Governor Cuomo, Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos to pass the NY Dream Act in this legislative session. This month, another generation of undocumented high school students will graduate without the certainty that they will be able to obtain a college education. Our elected officials can't delay any more the investment in the education of deserving and hard working undocumented students. The NY Dream Act will contribute to the prosperity of New York State, and set the right standard for an education policy in our nation. We need the NY Dream Act this year!”

“Undocumented students contribute to the economy, the life and culture of our state, and they deserve the chance at a better life that the New York Dream Act offers. The relatively modest investments required to provide financial aid to low-income undocumented students would be repaid many times over by the increased ability of thousands of New Yorkers to complete college, find jobs, and contribute to the welfare of the entire state," said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC-CUNY), the union that represents more than 20,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York.

For more information on the New York State DREAM Act, please click HERE for the fact sheet.


The New York DREAM Coalition is

Steering Committee: Cabrini Immigrant Services, Chinese Progressive Association, DREAM Scholars, DRM Capitol Group, Hispanic Federation, Make the Road New York, MinKwon Center for Community Action, New York Immigration Coalition, New York State Youth Leadership Council, NYPIRG, NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform, Professional Staff Congress - PSC CUNY, The Black Institute

Members: 1199 SEIU, African Hope Committee, American Jewish Committee (AJC), Brooklyn College DREAM Team , Good Shepard Services, Immigrant Movement International, La Fuente, La Union, Little Sisters of the Assumption, Lehman DREAM Team, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, NYC Labor Council for Latin American Advancement - NYC LCLAA, , NYS Higher Education PAC, New York State Immigrant Action Fund, NYU DREAM Team, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, SEIU 32BJ, Students for Education Reform, The Fund for Public Advocacy, United Federation of Teachers, United NY



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