Dreamers: an investment for NY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally addressed an issue that really matters to Latinos and the immigrant community. He said that if the legislature passes the Dream Act NY bill, which would provide state financial aid to qualifying Dreamers, he would sign it. New York already has a Dream Act system, but it doesn’t offer financial aid.

Since the governor’s election, his agenda has been nonexistent when it comes to the immigrant community. Cuomo hasn’t expressed support, either officially or publicly, on issues like the Dream Act and giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. That’s a low blow for NYC’s Latinos, who feel ignored by the Democratic party leader. Also, Cuomo’s viewpoints conflict with those of district and municipal officials in his own party.

The bill that was introduced in both legislative chambers by Assemblyman Francisco Moya and Senator José Peralta has had no problems being approved in the Assembly for the past three years. However, in the Senate, under Co-Leaders Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the bill hasn’t even been put to a vote during the same period.

This month, Washington state became the fourth state to pass a similar measure. On the other hand, New York, the capital of the world, is falling behind in approving bills to benefit the immigrant community, measures that require just a bit of common sense.

Studies and statistics have shown that the bill’s $25 million annual budget would account for 2% of the state’s academic budget, or a mere 0.01% of the state’s overall budget. The state wouldn’t have to break the bank, because in reality, the amount is a tiny fraction of the budget.

We thank the governor for speaking about this issue in public. Now we need him to not only offer his signature, but help win the legislative battle.

In addition, we urge the Senate’s co-leaders to take this bill seriously and analyze how it benefits the state, not their own parties.

The measure will only be available to students who want to attend college and qualified through the same regiment as other new yorkers. It will help the very students, New York has already invested on and educated in its public schools, or about $19,076 per pupil a year according to the census data for 2011.

This bill will help thousands of students graduate from college. With a college education, these students can then get better paying jobs and pay higher taxes into the state’s coffers, giving back as taxpayers. The Dream Act NY makes sense, because in the end, it will yield a return on investment.