City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other members of the Council rallied in support of the New York State Dream Act at City Hall on Tuesday – increasing pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo to add the act to the budget.
Cuomo has not weighed in on the bill, which would help undocumented students finance a college education by giving them access to state grant money.
A federal version of the bill to give undocumented minors a path to citizenship has been touted by President Barack Obama.
“Look at the history of our city and our state: we thrive because of our immigration background as a city,” Quinn said. “Why are we going to deny the children of immigrants – immigrant children in New York – that same opportunity?”
The NYS Dream Act would extend the state Tuition Assistance Program to undocumented youths who grew up and reside in New York.
“It is unjust, unfair and un-American to collect over a half a billion in tax revenue from undocumented immigrants only to deny them financial support that is granted to other New Yorkers,” state Senator Bill Perkins, who introduced the state legislation, told WNYC.
Perkins said despite opposition to the bill on the federal level, the state act “stands tall in terms of that push back and opening up the doors of opportunity.”
Supporters said the cost to extend TAP would be off-set by the benefits of having students with college degrees and entering the workforce.
Adding the DREAM Act to the state’s budget would cost around $17 million, according to estimates by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
Correction: The original article stated the DREAM Act would cost the state budget $1 million, according to estimates. This is incorrect. It would cost the state $17 million, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. WNYC regrets the error.