Brooklyn Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte says she has voted for passage of the DREAM Act that would allow children of Caribbean and other immigrants to apply for state scholarships and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).
On Thursday, New York State Assembly passed the New York State Development, Relieve and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that would also help with the cost of higher education, as well as establish a private scholarship fund (the DREAM fund).
“Today, my colleagues and I voted to pass the DREAM Act, once again reaffirming our chamber’s commitment to the disadvantaged and hard-working undocumented community of college-going immigrants,” said Bichotte, the first Haitian American to be elected to New York State Assembly, after voting.
Like so many others, Bichotte said her family migrated to New York from Haiti.
“We were without help and struggled to make ends meet,” said the representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “Working several jobs, my mother fought and scraped so that my siblings and I could pursue our American Dream.
“But for all the disadvantages we faced, we never suffered the indignity of working, paying taxes and trying to attend college and having absolutely no financial support from the state,” she added.
To be eligible for state tuition assistance and educational opportunity programs, undocumented immigrant students must satisfy certain requirements, including attending high school in New York State for at least two years and having graduated or received a high school equivalency diploma in-state.
“The DREAM Act is in keeping with the history and spirit of our state,” Bichotte said. “New York State is driven by our immigrant communities, and our commitment to them in spirit must be matched with our purse, when to do so will cost little and make such a difference in the lives of thousands of new New Yorkers.
“I am proud to stand with the Assembly, especially Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymembers Francisco Moya, Deborah Glick and Guillermo Linares who all took the lead to present this bill,” she added.
“I will keep fighting for its passage in the State Senate so that Governor Cuomo has a bill on his desk this year,” she continued.
The DREAM Act would also provide immigrant youth with access to the state’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP) and other opportunity programs available at community colleges.
Passage of the DREAM Act into law would make New York one of six states — including California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and Washington — to offer state financial aid to undocumented students and children of undocumented immigrants, Bichotte said.
At least 18 states allow immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and college.