Albany has time to save the Dreamers

In 2002, when New York State passed a law letting the Dreamers pay in-state tuition, it became the fourth state to pass this type of law. Next Tuesday, New York can become the fourth state once again to pass a financial aid law benefiting thousands of immigrant students who can now attend our colleges and universities. The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) would help students who are currently unable to afford college.

California passed this law in 2011 under Gov. Jerry Brown. In New Mexico, then-Gov. Bill Richardson signed the law in 2005. But what is most impressive is that former presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law to benefit the Dreamers in 2001, giving low-income students access to state financial aid.

However, our Gov. Andre Cuomo has remained silent on this issue since the bill was introduced and $25 million were allocated in the spending plan to help these immigrants.

The victory on Tuesday, when the Assembly easily passes this bill thanks to the Democratic majority, will be a symbolic one. However, the bill also needs Senate approval.

So far, Republican Dean Skelos of District 9 and Bronx Democrat Jeffrey Klein of District 34, the majority coalition leaders, are not willing to co-sponsor a bill to at least be debated in the Senate. Senator Klein wants to wait to build consensus until the tuition bill can be funded with money from New York state casinos.

If the Senate does nothing before the fiscal year ends on June 30, thousands of New York Dreamers—and more importantly, students who wish to further their education and contribute to our city—won’t be able to register when the semester starts in September.

Waiting for the casino money is like placing a bet on the future of NYC and thousands of youths. But there’s only one sure bet: Senators Klein and Skelos are risking the future of many of our students and immigrants, who deserve a chance to go to college.