By Mark Hallum
A Manhattan congressman is pushing for the DREAM Act to be named in honor of the late Queens state Sen.Jose Peralta, who died unexpectedly Nov. 21 of unconfirmed causes at the age of 47.
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx, issued a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for the bill’s “most ardent champion” to be recognized if the DREAM Act is passed, which could become a reality with Democrats now having a majority in senate.
“On behalf of his constituents in New York City and the greater immigrant diaspora in New York state, he was unyielding in his desire to see the New York state DREAM Act passed and signed into law,” Espaillat’s letter read. “In memory of Sen. Peralta, I respectfully ask that when the New York State Legislative Session reconvene on Jan. 9, that both the Assembly and Senate name the [DREAM Act] in honor of [Peralta].”
Peralta’s death occurred just two months after losing his seat in the September Democratic primary to Jackson Heights activist Jessica Ramos. He had served the district, which covers Corona, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, since 2010; before that, he served in the state Assembly for seven years.
Peralta was a prime sponsor of the DREAM Act while advocating for the New York to be made into a sanctuary state.
He fell out of favor with many in his district after joining the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of eight state senators who caucused separately from mainline Democrats but negotiated with Republicans, who had the majority, to pass progressive legislation in 2017.
After negotiations with Cuomo and other leaders in the state, members of the IDC rejoined mainstream Democrats who threatened the breakaway group with primary challenges if they did not return.
Despite Peralta’s vocal support of the DREAM Act, which he was a primary sponsor of, he was voted out of office among almost all the other IDC members and was set to hand over his office to Ramos in January.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall