Jan. 23, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
The state legislature passed a bill today that would provide undocumented students with the same right to receive in-state scholarships and financial aid as U.S. citizens and legal residents.
The legislation, which had been stalled by the Republicans in the state senate for years, passed the upper chamber this afternoon by an unofficial count of 40-20. The bill passed the Assembly later in the day by 90 to 37, and is expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The bill, called the Jose Peralta New York State Dream Act, is named after the late Jose Peralta, the first Dominican-American elected to the state senate and the original sponsor of the bill.
The legislation builds on a 2001 law that already permits undocumented immigrants with the right to receive in-state tuition if they live in the state.
This bill would provide undocumented immigrants who live in New York with access to tuition assistance such as the Excelsior Scholarship, TAP and other tuition assistance programs. The legislation also provides undocumented immigrants with the ability to open 529 savings accounts for their children.
The bill would also created a DREAM Fund, which would be funded by private donations and offer scholarships to children of immigrants.
“So proud to pass the Jose Peralta #DreamAct, in today’s Higher Education Committee. Sen. Peralta spent his career fighting for the Dreamers,” tweeted State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, a sponsor of the bill.
The legislation is expected to cost the state about $27 million out of its $175 billion budget.
Supporters of the bill say that it is makes sense to help undocumented students, since they are part of New York’s economy and will be paying taxes in years to come.
Critics of the bill, such as Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, argue that the funds should be directed toward citizens and legal residents.
“I have debated and fought to prevent DREAM Act from becoming a law because I feel it’s both misguided & unfair to provide individuals who are in our country unlawfully w/ free tuition & tuition assistance while middle-class citizens & legal residents struggle w/ debt,” Malliotakis tweeted.
Peralta’s family joined Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie at a press conference this morning as he announced his intentions to pass the bill.
State Senator Jessica Ramos, who beat Peralta last year to take the 13th District seat, voted in favor of passing the bill.
“Let us celebrate our undocumented students and their dreams today,” Ramos tweeted. “The only difference between these students and the rest of us, is what side of a border they were born on.”