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Broken DREAMs in Albany’s Budget

When my mother decided to bring my brothers and me to this country from Mexico six years ago, she did it because she wanted us to have a better future.  My mom is a single mother with five children, and she always explained to us that the educational system here was much better than in my country. That was the simple reason why she brought us to the United States. Right now, I’m in 11th grade, and my dream is to go to college and have a good career.

Being in college would mean a lot to me: not only because of how proud it would make my mom, but because I would be the first woman in my family to go to college. But without financial aid, college is something that my family would not be able to afford—it’s just too expensive. The problem is, without the New York State DREAM Act, I can’t apply for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) because I’m undocumented. Simply put, I can’t pursue my dreams because of my immigration status.

The New York State DREAM Act had brought me high hopes of going to college. I am willing to work as much as it takes to qualify for tuition assistance if the DREAM Act passes and opens up the door to college to me. It would also make my mother—who gave up everything to bring us to this country for a better education—less worried about whether or not I’ll be able to go to college.

Governor Andrew Cuomo promised DREAMers like me, this year and last, that he would put forth an effort to make the DREAM Act pass this year as part of the state budget negotiations. I was counting on him. Thousands of other DREAMers were counting on him, too. 

When I heard that funding for the DREAM Act would not be included in the state budget, I was upset because Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skeos, blocked it from even being considered as part of the budget talks. 

But I was also upset with Governor Cuomo, because he did not keep his promise and fight as hard as he could for DREAM. We know that when the governor makes something a priority, he can get it done. But he did not get the DREAM Act done, and now he must show us in the next few months whether he really meant what he promised.

In the meantime, without a DREAM Act in New York, thousands of DREAMers like me will either not be able to go to college or, if they are able to register, will struggle to pay tuition.

Today, I'm upset because there are many DREAMers who have the grades and the potential to go to the college of their dreams, but who just can’t go because they can’t afford it. I'm upset because, unless New York’s government delivers on what the governor promised us, the dreams that my mom and I had for my future will be in jeopardy.

*Perla López is a DREAMer and a Youth Power Project member of Make the Road New York.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: DREAM Act, Andrew Cuomo, immigrants, Education

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