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Yesterday afternoon, over 50 New York DREAMers and their allies pledged a hunger strike after Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would be dropping the NY DREAM Act from the annual budget.
Gov. Cuomo — who had campaigned on making the DREAM Act a reality, and up until last week was still promoting the bill to local groups — said he was dropping DREAM after he and state legislators failed to come up with an agreement on the legislation.
In response, dozens of DREAMers, many from State University of New York and the City University of New York, rallied in downtown Manhattan outside the offices of state leaders and vowed to hunger strike until the DREAM Act is reinserted back into the budget.
One of the protest’s organizers, student Monica Sibri, told the New York Daily News:
“We’re not going to eat, we’re not even chewing gum, we’re drinking water and that’s it — plain water until we see the DREAM Act included in the budget.
We’re willing to sacrifice.”
Cuomo was forced to issue a statement after the palpable outcry from advocates, saying:
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that we cannot arrive at an agreement on either of these crucial pieces of legislation at this point in the session. As important as they are, they are very controversial issues in both houses for their own reasons.
On the DREAM Act, which the Senate Republicans don’t favor, I believe the Democratic Senate Conference and the Independent Democratic Conference should introduce a bill, have every member sign it, and ask that Sen. Dean Skelos put it up for a vote.
The New York Senate voted on the DREAM Act last year, but passage failed on a razor-thin partisan margin.
At least 17 states currently allow undocumented students to pay the in-state tuition rate, with Washington State, California, Texas, and New Mexico having passed legislation allowing DREAMers to apply for financial aid as well.
A MoveOn petition telling Gov. Cuomo to make good on his promise to make the DREAM Act a reality is available to sign here.