Assembly Passes DREAM Act, Senate Action Unlikely

On Thursday, the state Assembly voted 87-45 for the DREAM Act, a bill that would open up state-level college tuition assistance to children of immigrants and undocumented immigrants who are in the country illegally. The vote was largely along party lines, with all of the “yes” votes coming from Democrats. Nine Bronx members voted in favor: Carmen E. Arroyo (84), Michael Blake (79AD), Marcos Crespo (85AD), Jeffrey Dinowitz (81AD), Mark Gjonaj (80AD), Latoya Joyner (77AD), Victor Pichardo (86AD), Luis Sepulveda (86AD), and Speaker Carl Heastie (83AD).

When asked about the inaction on the part of the New York State Senate, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stated, “It is perplexing to me that the state, with arguably the richest history of welcoming immigrants, struggles to see the moral and fiscal obligation it has to pass the DREAM Act.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has placed the DREAM Act in his budget proposal but has tied it to a controversial tuition tax credit that is opposed by many Assembly Democrats.

Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., supports coupling the tax credit with the DREAM Act. “I am afraid that the Assembly has just taken the pressure away from Governor Cuomo and relieved him of his commitment to pass the DREAM Act,” he said in a statement.

Of the votes against the bill, 38 came from Republicans. Six upstate Democrats vote against the DREAM Act. The only New York City Democrat to vote “nay” was Assemblyman Michael Cusick, D-Staten Island.

Seventeen Assembly members, including Jose Rivera (78AD) and Michael R. Benedetto (82AD), were absent for the vote, and there’s one vacancy in the chamber.