Niagara Gazette


February 20, 2013

GUEST VIEW: New York's Dream Act helps all our kids


Niagara Gazette — When these students cross the stage on graduation day, they are seeking nothing more than the same opportunity as their classmates to go to college, realize their potential, and contribute to our economy.

No sweet deals, no gimmicks. Just the same access to the American Dream as every other New Yorker.

With 77 percent of Americans supporting comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship and a bipartisan group of senators, including our own Chuck Schumer joining the president’s charge to pass it, New York must start investing in the future of our economy now. We cannot afford to wait. I want, and our state needs, a DREAMer to build the next Google in New York, not on the West Coast. We should all want a DREAMer to design and build the next generation of wind farms for New York, not in the Midwest.

Extending New York’s Tuition Assistance Program to undocumented students would increase the overall cost of the program by an amount equal to roughly 0.012 percent of the state budget. This increase means that no students are losing out — rather more students are gaining — and this figure pales in comparison to the opportunity cost we would face if instead, we choose to leave bright, motivated students behind.

In the next 5 years, 63 percent of all jobs in New York will require post-secondary education. Hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs will be created in STEM fields—science, technology, math and engineering—and we have the potential to lead in growth sectors like Bioinformatics thanks to successful programs at the State University at Buffalo and other public schools.

For New York to lead the country and the world in innovation, we need to tap the brainpower of all our kids, regardless of their status.

There is only one America and one New York. Now is the time for all of us, immigrants new and old, documented and undocumented, to band together and pass the Dream Act — for all our kids.

As President Barack Obama said in his inauguration address: "The most evident of truths, that all of us are created equal, is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.”

Reshma Saujani is a former deputy public advocate of New York City

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