Activists Infuriated After NY Dream Act Fiasco

Immigration advocates and students are asking Gov. Cuomo to step up to the plate to make the DREAM Act a law in New York, after the State Senate’s rejection (Photo via El Diario/La Prensa).

Immigration advocates and students are asking Gov. Cuomo to step up to the plate to make the Dream Act a law in New York, after the state Senate’s rejection. (Photo via El Diario/La Prensa)

Monday’s abrupt rejection of the NY Dream Act in the state Legislature, which required 32 votes in favor but fell two short, has left many pro-immigrant activists infuriated and suspecting foul play even from the lawmakers who supported the measure, El Diario/La Prensa reports in an article by Juan Matossian.

“They warned us only one hour in advance. It looks like they wanted to get the vote over with and make it fail,” complained Javier Valdés, co-executive director of Make The Road New York. “We would have liked to be in Albany to lobby as much as possible with senators and try to get those few votes that were needed.”

A coalition of “dreamers” and activists from all over the state had announced they would gather in the state capital on Tuesday to lobby for the bill, which they they assumed would be up for a vote in the next few days.

Now activists are putting their sights on their last chance to make the Dream Act a reality this year, even though their chances are slim. “We ask Gov. Cuomo and the legislative leaders to make the Dream Act a priority in the state budget,” said Lucía Gómez, executive director of the community organization La Fuente.

“Even though we are disheartened by the vote, we are still hopeful that Albany will do the right thing for New York students,” she added.

The story goes on to say that the unusual decision to bring the bill to the floor late Monday came from State Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein from the Bronx, the head of a group of dissident Democrats who run the chamber alongside the Republicans.

Two Democrats — Sens. Ted O’Brien of Rochester and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn — voted against the measure, which would have allowed state financial aid programs to cover college costs for the children of undocumented immigrants, benefiting some 4,000 students per year.

But in a scathing editorial, El Diario/La Prensa put the blame squarely on Gov. Cuomo.

Being just two votes short of green-lighting the bill highlights how little interest Gov. Cuomo had in the initiative. Is the governor taking his re-election for granted, and is that why taking care of the needs of minorities is not among his priorities?

“I will continue to work with supporters, stakeholders and members of the Legislature to achieve this dream…,” were Cuomo’s words after yesterday’s vote. The question is: Why didn’t he work harder before the vote, and put all his political capital behind the NY Dream Act, like he did with legislation on same-sex marriage?

Once again, New York fell behind compared to others. Washington, California, Illinois, New Mexico and even ultra-conservative states like Texas have shown better leadership when it comes to taking care of undocumented youths.

However, Cuomo is still able to redeem himself instead of simply washing his hands like Pontius Pilate and blaming the Legislature.

A window is still open for the state Dream Act, and Cuomo still has a chance to prove that he governs for everyone. When he meets with the speaker of the Assembly and with Senate Co-Presidents Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein to iron out a final budget, he must include funding to help the dreamers.

According to studies, the state’s Dream Act would require a $25 million annual budget, which would account for 2 percent of the state’s academic budget or a mere 0.01 percent of the overall budget. The state wouldn’t have to break the bank, because this is an almost insignificant portion of its budget.”

The editorial also warns the governor that, according a recent Marist Poll, his support among Latinos “has dropped 21 points, going from 62 percent in November to 41 percent now.”

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