New York Daily News columnist and Democracy Now! co-host.
The New York State Senate has rejected a bill that would have provided tuition assistance to undocumented immigrant college students. The defeated bill, known as the DREAM Act, would affect some 8,000 college-age immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their parents. Last night, students protested the vote in New York City. Some of them were upset at Democratic State Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx for bringing the bill to a vote before he had the necessary support.
AMY GOODMAN: Juan, you just wrote a piece in the New York Daily News that looks at how the New York State Senate has rejected a bill that would have provided tuition assistance to undocumented immigrant college students. Last night, students protested the vote here in New York City. Some of them were upset at Democratic Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx for bringing the bill to a vote before he had the necessary support.
AMBROSIO GUADALUPE: ...say, Klein, how dare you do this to us? We waited three years! It’s been enough! Undocumented youth is here and are ready to tell you: We want the New York DREAM Act!
JOCELYN RAMIREZ: I’m naturally from California, but in New York. And this is a U.S.—like, this is a whole, from coast to coast, movement. And this shouldn’t just be based on, like, little areas. This should just be like the bigger cities slowly going into other areas where the DREAMers aren’t as represented.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Jocelyn Ramirez and Ambrosio Guadalupe. Juan, what’s happening here?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, there was a vote that occurred on—earlier this week. Actually, the DREAM Act, which would provide basically tuition assistance by the state to undocumented immigrant college students in the country, would affect about 8,000 currently. And the vote actually passed 30 to 29, but the rules of the New York State Senate—and this was in the Senate—require that you have to have 32 votes, a majority of the 63 sitting senators. And when they called the vote for the bill, they were well aware that the lone Republican who was—who had said he would support the legislation had left Albany later that—in the morning, and this vote was held suddenly in the afternoon. So it was held knowing that there would not be the votes there, and that the—it was a sort of an agreement between Jeff Klein, who shares power—there’s a rump group or a breakaway group of Democrats that share power with Republicans in the state Senate, along with the Republicans.
And the governor, unfortunately—Governor Cuomo, the Democrat—was pretty complicit in the entire thing, because the governor has not made any effort to get this bill passed. He made enormous efforts around the Marriage Equality Act. He made a big push around gun control. He recently has spoken out strongly around charter schools. These are the issues that he’s made a priority, but he’s said nothing about the DREAM Act, except that if the Senate and the Assembly pass it, he will sign it. So he hasn’t used any of his—
AMY GOODMAN: So, what happens—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —any of his own capital to press the bill.
AMY GOODMAN: So what happens to these students?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, right now, unless there’s a—New York state has to have a budget deal by April 1, and there’s still a potential to put the legislation back in a compromised budget deal between the two houses. But the governor will have to exercise his power to do that, and that’s why there’s these protests mounting. There’s a huge conference this weekend of thousands of Latino leaders from across the state, where the governor is supposed to speak. And so, there’s going to be a lot of heat on the governor over the next few days to actually do something about the DREAM Act, not just talk about the need for immigration reform.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we will certainly continue to cover that.