Nearly 200 immigrant rights supporters gathered Saturday at an immigration forum in Harlem to push for passage of the New York Dream Act. The bill was introduced in Albany by State Senator Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) last week. The bill would allow immigrants to get in-state tuition at all New York colleges, work authorization, access to state-sponsored health care and the ability to obtain a driver’s license.
The announcement of the bill came one week after Dreamers, a group of undocumented students pushing for the passage of the Dream Act, held “Coming Out of the Shadows” rallies across the country.
“The impetus for this legislation comes from the Dreamers,” Perkins said. “We as legislators find it our responsibility to help them fulfill their dreams.”
Several “Coming Out” events were held in New York, including one at Union Square where 20 Dreamers shared their personal immigration stories. The New York State Youth Leadership Council sponsored the Union Square rally and co-wrote the New York Dream Act with Perkins. After the federal Dream Act failed in Congress in December, supporters of the legislation decided to wage the fight state-by-state, hoping to create momentum for national legislation that will offer a pathway to citizenship, in addition to the provisions included in the state bill.