Streams

Dream Act Dies in Albany

Monday, March 17, 2014

The New York State Capitol in Albany.

The Dream Act is dead for now in New York, after the State Senate voted down a measure that would have granted college tuition aid to the children of immigrants in the country illegally. The 30 to 29 vote defeating the bill left leaders of rival Democratic factions pointing fingers.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, who is in a ruling coalition with Republicans, said he’s disappointed that two Democrats joined the GOP to vote no on the bill to allow tuition aid for children of undocumented immigrants.

“When there is a core Democratic issue as important to Democrats as the Dream Act, I think it’s important that all Democrats support it if we expect Republicans to do the same,” Klein said.

But the leader of the rest of the Senate Democrats, who hold minority status in the Senate, blamed Senator Klein.

Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said it was Klein’s job, as co leader of the Senate with the GOP, to produce some Republican yes votes.

“The bipartisan collation was supposed to bring bipartisan support to progressive issues,” said Stewart Cousins. “Unfortunately, that did not happen today.”

Republican leaders did not comment.

Javier Valdez of Make the Road New York, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants, called the decision to hold the vote on Monday "despicable," and said his group was only notified about the vote an hour before it occurred in Albany.

Luba Cortes, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College, was born in Mexico and has been living in the U.S. since she was 13. She's currently on a scholarship that runs out at the end of the year.

"It's really heartbreaking to know that my dreams to pursue higher education have to be deterred because they don't believe that a person who has been living here their whole lives, who has the good grades to prove that they are hard-working...they're basically telling me that I don't deserve an education."

With additional reporting by Beth Fertig

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