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Immigration Activists Are Still Fighting for Dreamers

The New York State DREAM Act would allow undocumented teens and adults who were brought to the United States by their parents to apply for financial aid. The bill didn’t make it into the state’s new budget. Supporters of the bill are not giving up. Nardos Mesmer has the story.

When the DREAM Act didn’t pass, Marisol Santiago was disappointed because she isn’t able to get financial aid. She is also was disappointed in the politicians who said it would become law

SANTIAGO: I think that we are just toys for them because at the end of the day they’re not going to pass it, why do they even try to put advertisement on it.

Because finances were tight. It took her eight years to get her an associates. Now she’s working on getting a bachelors degree as a part time student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She says, the financial aid would be a big help.

Governor Andrew Cuomo gambled by linking the DREAM Act, which is popular with the Democrats, to an Education Tax Credit, which is popular with Republicans.

The State Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, voted down the tax credit. The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, defeated the DREAM Act.

Cuomo is expected to push for the bill to be reintroduced. But it will face the same opposition from the Senate’s republicans, according to Scott Reiff, spokesperson for Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos.

REIFF: We don’t believe that taxpayers should be forced to pick-up the cost of free college tuition of illegal immigrants while hard working middle class families take our student loans that will take them years to repay.

Supporters say they’ll be bringing the same passion to get the bill passed.

VIMO: No, we’re not giving –up and we’re not taking no for an answer.

That’s Jackie Vimo, of the New York Immigration Coalition. She says supporters of the group will bring the same strategies that failed to win the bill’s passage this year.

VIMO: We’re going to keep on working on leadership, in both the assembly and the Senate. We’re going to continue to conduct lobby visits to show legislator across the state that there are undocumented immigrants in their district.

But some advocates believe it’s time for a new strategy according to New York Times reporter Liz Robbins. They’ve been telling her efforts should be focused on getting a large group of potential supporter to line-up behind the tax credit.

ROBBINS: The next step is to work on the Teachers Union to pretty much convince the Democratic law makers that a tax credit is also important. Again this is assuming that if it comes around again next year that governor Cuomo will link them again.

The fight so far has taken a lot out of Marisol Santiago.

SANTIAGO Take time to go to the rallies, to help them out and sometimes I just get tired.

But she says there’s too much at stake for her to give up. She’s paying taxes but not getting benefits so she will continue to help get the DREAM Act passed.

I’m Nardos Mesmer, Columbia Radio News.


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