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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora