By Bill Parry
The Democrat-controlled state Assembly passed the DREAM Act for a fifth straight year Monday along with sweeping legislation to protect the state’s immigrant population, measures that if enacted would turn New York into a “sanctuary state,” according to Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights).
The package of proposals known as the Liberty Act would prohibit authorities from questioning immigration status when people receive state or local services or contact law enforcement for assistance.
“If New York is not prepared to act swiftly in protecting all vulnerable communities from the brunt of President Trump’s rhetoric and executive orders, we will have betrayed ourselves and those who have entrusted us with the future of our state,” Moya said.
The Liberty Act would also curtail the use of state and local facilities for the purposes of federal immigration enforcement and establish a right to legal representation for individuals subject to removal or deportation proceedings. The Liberty Act would also prohibit state and local agencies from expending resources to help the federal government create or maintain a database or registry based on color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national or ethnic origin
The DREAM Act would advance educational opportunities for children of immigrants by eliminating obstacles to obtaining financial aid for undocumented students seeking to attend an institution of higher learning. Under Moya’s proposal, such students would be eligible for general financial aid awards, performance-based awards, or New York State’s Tuition Assistance Program.
“For the fifth consecutive year, the Assembly has proudly passed the New York DREAM Act with hopes that this year we will finally see this crucial bill pass both houses of the state legislature,” Moya said. “Young DREAMers who come to the U.S. through no fault of their own, often too young to have ever known any other country as home, go to school and pledge allegiance to the flag, just like their peers. Unlike their peers, after graduating, the next step towards a college degree is entirely out of reach without financial aid available to help finance their education.”
The DREAM Act awaits movement in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
“Just like the fight over minimum wage, over marriage equality, over paid family leave and so many other progressive issues that languished in the Senate for years before eventually passing through both chambers, I am confident that the DREAM Act will follow the same patch,” Moya said. “New York will become a state where any student, regardless of their immigration status, can earn an education and follow their American dream.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr