A small group of immigrant advocates gathered Wednesday to watch Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's State of the State speech at a restaurant in Deer Park, following a months-long push to get Cuomo to include funding for tuition aid to “Dreamers” -- immigrant students in the country illegally or whose deportations have been deferred. A Dream Act bill failed to pass the State Senate last year.
They got their wish when Cuomo announced he’s putting $27 million to “make it a reality” -- substantially more than the $17 million they were hoping for. However, the advocates said they didn’t like that he paired the provision with an education tax credit for those who donate money to schools. The advocates see that as a giveaway to private institutions that poor students can’t usually afford to attend.
“After years of advocating for educational equality in New York State we are really pleased with the opportunity this will provide to the hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth in high schools,” said Victoria Daza, an organizer with Long Island Jobs With Justice, a labor and immigrant rights advocacy group.
“However, as an organization that stands in solidarity with students and workers we are very concerned about this bill being tied with education credit," Daza said. "Our vision of education equality does not include taking money away from public schools.”
Javier Valdés, co-director of Latino-advocacy group Make the Road New York, a nonprofit in New York City and Long Island, said in a statement that the Dream Act is “a critical matter that deserves consideration on its own.”