Undocumented students fight for New York DREAM Act
CRAIG D. FRAZIER Special to the AmNews | 3/23/2012, 12:51 p.m.
Hundreds of undocumented students traveled to Albany last week to educate and show legislators the faces behind the voices that would benefit from the passage of the New York DREAM Act. The students spoke with Assembly members and senators and expressed the hardships they face as undocumented students.
The New York State YouthLeadership Council (NYSYLC) organized the trip. The NYSYLC is the only undocumented youth-led organization in New York and stands in solidarity with undocumented immigrants. The NYSYLC spearheaded the campaign for the New York DREAM Act in March 2011.
"We walked the halls of the buildings with pride, professionalism and as a unified front, demonstrating with our words, stories, facts and even a few tears why the New York DREAM Act needs to pass now," said Daniella Alulema, NYSLC core member.
Alulema feels that New York's undocumented youth need real and effective legislative change that will provide them access to aid like the Tuition Assistance Program.
"The New York DREAM Act will open up the doors to a college education for hard-working and deserving New York undocumented students who seek to contribute back to their families, community and state," she added. "The education of undocumented youth can't be deferred any longer and New York must set the national standard for humane and fair education policies."
Lawmakers feel that it is in New York City's best interest to make sure they are able to become productive members of society. "Where others have chosen intolerance, the Empire State can honor its legacy of being a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations of immigrants by passing the New York State DREAM Act introduced by Assemblyman Guillermo Linares and State Sen. Bill Perkins," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a recent editorial.
During his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that he would help lead the campaign for the passage of the New York DREAM Act. He declared, "We'll also help lead the charge for the New York State DREAM Act so children who were brought here illegally can apply for state-sponsored college loans, grants and scholarships."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stated that she will work with elected officials in Albany to pass the New York DREAM Act. Quinn declared, "New York City was built by generation after generation of immigrants who came here to pursue the American Dream. They dreamt that one day their children could grow up to be doctors or lawyers or engineers, and New York City helped make those dreams come true.
"We have to keep that dream alive for future generations. That's why we'll be working with Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and our colleagues in Albany to pass the DREAM Act."
Undocumented youth and their allies will walk 150 miles to Albany during spring break to show their commitment to ensure that the New York DREAM Act someday becomes a reality.