By Bill Parry
There is renewed hope for supporters of the Dream Act in New York state.
The legislation authorizing undocumented students who graduate from high schools in New York to apply for college financial aid is on track to be a priority during the 2016 legislative session.
When he opened the session Jan. 6, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who has the power to decide which bills are considered, set an agenda that included more funding for education and additional resources for struggling schools as well as adequate funding for universal pre-kindergarten. Heastie also declared that the Assembly would once again pass the Dream Act. The high-profile measure sponsored by Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) has passed the Assembly for several years in a row, only to be stymied by the Republican-dominated Senate.
“Year after year we have fought for our bright young students,” Moya said. “And year after year, the Assembly has acted with vision, while the Senate has chosen to act with fear. I am confident that with Speaker Heastie’s help, 2016 will be the year of the Dream. I believe — now more than ever — that a young person’s status should not be a barrier to his or her success.”
It is estimated that of the 4,500 undocumented students who graduate from New York high schools every year, only 5 to 10 percent pursue a college degree—mainly due to the financial hurdles such students must face. Heastie said the measure would enable more students to successfully complete their education and build “sound, lasting careers and make a meaningful contribution to our communities.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr