The DREAM Act: New York

While GOP Presidential hopefuls keep tripping over each other to show who is the most rabidly anti-immigrant, hundreds of New Yorkers are in Albany today advocating for the New York DREAM Act.

Why the Republican politicians believe their extremism in immigration matters — a sure-fire way to alienate Latino voters — will help them become President is a mystery. After all, poll after poll confirms that the majority of the American people favors a reasonable solution to the immigration crisis.

In recent weeks, a Fox News poll found that 90% of Latino voters surveyed said they supported the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented youths who attend college or serve in the military.

Even Mitt Romney’s Mexican relatives (remember “Mexican Mitt”?) declared in an interview aired Monday on Univision that they hoped their cousin would support the DREAM Act. Romney has vowed to veto it if he’s elected President.

“Ellos (the Dreamers) no han hecho nada malo (they have done nothing wrong),” one of Romney’s relatives said in Spanish. “The U.S. certainly could use their talents.”

Last December, another Fox News poll found that 66% of all registered voters supported allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for citizenship as long as they learned English, paid back taxes and passed background checks.

Fifty-seven percent of Republicans surveyed by Fox News in that December poll supported a path to citizenship under those requirements.

“More than 1,200 people will travel to Albany tomorrow,” says Osmán Canales, 23, a veteran of the DREAM Act battles and one of the founders of the Long Island Immigrant Students Association. “We are calling our Long Island (state) Senators and urging them to support this legislation.”

The Immigrants’ Day of Action in Albany, as it has been billed, is a statewide mobilization effort that brings together hundreds of diverse New Yorkers and immigrant organizations from across the state. Its purpose is to present their communities’ priorities to government officials in Albany with a unified voice. Its main organizer is the New York Immigration Coalition.

The New York DREAM Act is at the top of the list of the coalition’s priorities. Pending legislation in Albany which would ensure equal access to higher education for all youth, regardless of their immigration status. The act was introduced after the U.S. Senate failed to pass a federal version. It has the support of Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and the state Board of Regents.

Missing from the list of supporters is the most important person of all, Gov. Cuomo, who so far has said only that he is “studying” the legislation.

The New York DREAM Act would not provide a path to legalization or citizenship for the undocumented students but would open the doors to financial resources from both the public and the private sectors. It is estimated that 200,000 undocumented students would benefit.

“We stand united in the belief that undocumented youth represent the greatest source of untapped potential in our state. New York DREAM legislation will open the door for future doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers to make valuable economic and social contributions to our state,” the New York Immigration Coalition said in a statement.

This legislation will benefit immigrant students in New York State who were brought to the country before the age of 18, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED and are undocumented.

“We are taking on this campaign starting now,” Canales said. “Will you join us in this fight?”


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