June 08, 2013

DREAMers deserve access to opportunities

Author: Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT Communications

Hina Naveed lived in the shadows when she was young. Along with her family, she entered the United States from Pakistan and in doing so, she was slapped with the unwanted label: “Undocumented.”

“I was not willing to tell my story for fear of repercussions,” says Naveed, now a junior at the College of Staten Island.

But that was then, and now she realizes her story is an important one. And as the 2013 New York Immigration Council’s DREAM Fellow she shares it with “One Voice United” rally-goers as part of her call for passage of the New York state DREAM Act.

Nationally, federal DREAM Act legislation would open up a variety of tuition-assistance and college-level educational opportunity programs to undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the United States as children. And in New York, the legislation would open the state’s Tuition Assistance Program to all students.

As she stands in the shadow of the state Capitol, Naveed calls on the state Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead and pass the NYS DREAM Act into law.

“With 10 days left in this year’s legislative session, it’s time for the Senate to get with the program,” Naveed says, adding the bill is already supported by the State Education Department and Commissioner John King, the Board of Regents and both the CUNY and SUNY systems.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Saturday also calls for the legislation’s passage. Noting that most all of us hail from immigrants, Weingarten says, “we should be fighting for the DREAMers and for comprehensive immigration reform” to ensure access to affordable higher education and that all students have an opportunity to succeed.

Says Naveed: “The time for comprehensive immigration reform is now.”

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