News / USA

Immigrant Students Lobby for a US Dream

Peter Fedynsky
ALBANY, New York - Millions of illegal immigrants have been drawn to the United States by employers looking for cheap labor.  Those who came with their parents as young children grow up culturally indistinguishable from their American-born peers.  But they are bluntly reminded of their status as undocumented outsiders when they apply for college financial assistance. A group of such students is trying to remedy the situation in New York State.

Undocumented students from Lehman College in New York City don academic robes for a protest in the office of State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

They are almost immediately ushered out, their protest being deemed illegal.  It came at the end of a day of lobbying for passage of the New York DREAM Act, legislation that would make undocumented students eligible for college loans.   

The day began with a chartered bus ride to the state capital in Albany.  Melissa Garcia says dire economic circumstances in her native Colombia forced her mother to come to the United States 11 years ago.  “There are many undocumented youths who are brought here as early as six months.  They are babies.  They were not aware they were being brought, so going back is not a solution.  They do not know the language, they do not know their country.  This is what they call home," she said.

“People want to know who we are," she said while leading a chant.

The sponsor of New York's DREAM Act, State Senator Bill Perkins, told VOA the measure would lead to enactment of the federal DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to undocumented students. “I think it will sort of light the movement, the flame of support, that I think will trigger similar DREAM Acts throughout the country and alert the national legislature, the government, congresspeople and the president that it’s time to pass the DREAM Act on the federal level," he said.

The students plied the corridors of the state capitol building, reminding legislators that college graduates pay an average of $3,900 more in taxes every year than others.  But aides substituting for the state representatives appeared lukewarm.

Assemblyman Steven Englebright expressed understanding for undocumented students,  but noted, “Even if they are capable of making significant contributions to this society, the initial political reaction is a negative one ... from some quarters.”

Those quarters are the State Senate, where the Republican Party holds the majority.  Many Republicans nationwide oppose assistance to illegal immigrants.

The students ended their day in Albany disappointed.  Their protest in the speaker’s office brought no immediate result.

But they rallied again the following day outside of Speaker Silver’s Manhattan office, hoping he will schedule a vote on the act before the legislative session ends on June 21.  Approval would make New York the fourth state after Texas, California and New Mexico to grant college assistance for undocumented students.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 12, 2012 7:15 PM
We hate them ? YES ! We need them ? YES ! We keep them? YES !

by: Anonymous
June 12, 2012 9:49 AM
I wonder if USA has enough money just to deport 12 million illegal immigrants ? I also wonder if USA has enough man resources to replace aging babyboomers who are retiring in mass in the next 10 years. Do you have any sense of reality?

by: LAVietVet from: Rolling Hills Estate
June 12, 2012 6:25 AM
"Legal Immigrants", YES - "Illegal immigrants", NO! Also, all City Mayors and CALTRANS should be investigated for employing Illegals.

by: LAVietVet from: Rolling Hills Estate
June 12, 2012 6:21 AM
The U.S. should attend after the U.S. "Citizens" Dream until the economy gets better. Right now the U.S. can NOT afford to allow the "Illegal Dreams" to happen. The "illegal" exodus in invading the U.S. MUST stop and sending back "all illegals" to "their country of origin" will give them the MESSAGE TO THINK TWICE BEFORE THEY "WET" THEIR BACK!

by: LAVietVet from: Rolling Hills Estate
June 12, 2012 3:39 AM
At the current economic situation of the U.S., the U.S. DREAM should be for the citizens of the country and NOT for Illegals. The U.S. do not have enough resources to allow the illegals to DREAM.

by: LAVietVet from: Rolling Hills Estate
June 12, 2012 2:54 AM
Other countries do not have this problem, and if they do, there's only negligible number. The U.S. have millions and yet the government still wants to aggravate the situation by NOT securing the borders. Instead, the U.S. can not keep up supporting the illegals and are spending millions or trillions keeping and/or deporting them. DEPORT THEM ALL AND LET EACH ONE APPLY FOR ENTRY TO THE U.S. IT'S NOT THE U.S. FAULT IF THEY'RE HERE ILLEGALLY, AND SHOULD NOT BE RESPONSIBLE!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs