More than 50 students and their supporters rallied outside Nassau Community College’s Union Building to call for statewide reform to allow undocumented immigrants to receive financial assistance for college.
They want passage of New York’s version of “Dream Act” legislation, a set of bills that would free up state-funded tuition assistance, allow the use of tax-deferred accounts for college savings and permit privately-funded scholarships for immigrant students who are in the state illegally. The bills have not been scheduled for vote.
The student advocates are part of a national movement that seeks legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and who either attend college or serve in the military.
Osman Canales, an advocate with the Long Island Immigrant Students Association, said the rally sought to draw the attention of Long Island’s state legislators and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo since many area students “cannot continue their education ... because of the lack of nine numbers” from a Social Security card.
The dozens of students who participated, some dressed in graduation cap and gowns, chanted “Education, not deportation!” as they marched under a drizzle around the student union. Both documented and undocumented students spoke in favor of reform that they said would be key in preserving the American dream for many young people.
A few, like Wendolyne Sabrozo, took the risk of speaking out to call attention to their plight. Sabrozo, who graduated magna cum laude from Nassau Community College, said her future is severely limited because of her lack of a permanent immigration status.
“I can’t drive. I can’t get financial aid. I can’t get a job ... I can’t travel domestically or internationally. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” said Sabrozo, 19. “The Dream Act is imperative ... for students like me who are in a state of limbo.”
Above: Students walk through the campus of Nassau Community College. (April 28, 2011)