State legislators kill DREAM Act in close vote

April 2, 2014

File Photo by Rachel Kaplan/WSN

Undocumented students continue to fight for financial aid for their education.

The New York State Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act was voted down 29 to 30 last month, which has outraged experts and students in the NYU community.

The bill, which would have provided state-funded college aid to the children of undocumented immigrants, was rejected by New York State Republicans after it passed the State Assembly earlier this year.

Spanish and Portuguese social and cultural analysis professor Mary Louise Pratt said she was upset that the bill did not pass.

“It was a political travesty that it was brought up in the New York State legislature in such a way that it was narrowly voted down, despite broad public and political support for it,” Pratt said.

DREAM Team leaders, Gallatin senior Mark Putterman and Silver senior Maria Monica Andia, accused those in the legislature of putting their chance of getting elected in the 2014 election cycle before the interests of their constituents.

“The DREAM Team at NYU is disappointed and disgusted that New York State representatives have once again chosen to let petty politics and misinformation prevent the passage of the New York DREAM Act,” Putterman and Andia said in a statement on behalf of their organization. “While these politicians obsess over future ‘electability,’ talented and deserving students suffer the consequences of inaccessible and unaffordable education, simply because of their immigration status.”

Putterman and Andia said the blame was placed squarely on the shoulders of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and supporter of the bill, New York State Senate Co-President Jeffrey Klein, who they say called the measure to a vote prematurely.

“We hold Senate Co-President Jeffrey Klein and Governor Cuomo especially responsible for the failure of this legislation,” they said. “Senator Klein, a supposed supporter of the bill, put the New York DREAM Act to a floor vote knowing that the bill lacked the votes necessary to pass — effectively killing the bill.”

The DREAM Team, along with New York State Youth Leadership Council and high school students affected by the DREAM Act’s failure, registered their disappointment with Klein by staging a rally outside his offices on March 19.

Klein’s spokesperson Anna Durrett denied Putterman and Andia’s claims and said Klein was and continues to be a supporter of the bill.

“At the request of the bill’s biggest supporters, Senator Klein delivered on his commitment to bring the DREAM Act to the floor,” Durrett said. “While Senator Klein is disappointed with the outcome, he believes this was an important vote to have.”

Frank Sobrino, a spokesperson for the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jose Peralta, said the supporters of the bill are still working to gather the votes necessary to pass the bill and another vote is possible in the next three months.

“[Peralta] and his colleagues are looking into the possibility of bringing the DREAM Act to a vote again later in the legislative session, particularly if currently vacant seats are filled before the end of session,” Sobrino said.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 2 print edition. John Ambrosio is a staff writer. Email him at news@nyunews.com. 

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