Op-Ed: Help students achieve their DREAMs

| oped@queenscourier.com |


New York City is a microcosm of the world, and its diversity is what has made it the cultural and economic hub of the nation. Over the centuries, waves of immigrants have built businesses, churned economic activity and brought fresh perspectives. Today’s immigrants are no different. To deny our young, promising immigrants now is to deny our history and track record of success.

Currently, we hold our undocumented students, who are here by no decision of their own, back from their potential. Thousands of these students across the state strive to achieve just like their peers, but are barred from the basic financial resources – loans, grants – that make it possible for so many young people in this country to pursue higher education.

Last month, the New York State Assembly decided to address this issue in a sincere way. With overwhelming support, we passed the New York State DREAM Act, which for the first time will open up entitlement funding from Tuition Assistance Programs (TAP) to undocumented students.

Just prior to its passage, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report touting the DREAM Act’s vast economic benefits, and it echoes what DREAM supporters have been saying for years. By investing in promising students, no matter where they were born, you create a better-educated workforce that attracts good jobs to the state which help build a robust middle class. At a cost of less than $20 million a year, the state will see that amount repaid and then some.

Since its passage in the Assembly, the bill has been stuck in limbo in the Senate. In resisting this bill, New York State Senate Republicans are proving to be lagging behind their counterparts across the nation. U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has publicly come out in favor of a DREAM Act. Texas Governor Rick Perry signed similar legislation in his own state.

If we are going to see this legislation pass in the final two weeks of the session, Governor Andrew Cuomo must show the same leadership he has shown on marriage equality, gun control and raising the minimum wage. The governor once again can continue to take action on issues facing the nation as a whole and cementing New York’s reputation as a progressive leader by supporting the DREAM Act.

We have less than two weeks in Albany to give these students a chance to pursue their dreams. I implore my colleagues in the Senate and in the governor’s mansion to find courage to put politics aside and do what is right.

Moya represents Assembly District 39