Although there were 30 votes in support of the Dream Act, the NY State Senate failed to pass the measure, with 29 votes against the bill which would grant undocumented immigrants access to financial assistance for public universities. The State Senate needs 32 votes to pass bills. State Senator Jose Peralta, who co-sponsored the legislation, said, "It continues to be a nightmare for the DREAMers."
The vote was mostly along partisan lines: The NY Times reports, "All of the Republicans present voted against the measure; two Democrats, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn and Ted O’Brien of the Rochester area, also voted no." Complicating matters, the vote was "unscheduled", with supporters of the bill caught off-guard.
The State Senate is controlled by Republicans plus a group of breakaway Democrats. While State Senator Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) is co-leader of the Senate, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference and a supporter of the measure, he couldn't rally the necessary support. He said, "I think it's difficult not to have a united Democratic conference—all Democrats, I.D.C., regular Democrats—on such an important issue and to expect Republicans to support such an important piece of legislation."
State Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) said, "I simply cannot justify spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars annually to pay for tuition for illegal immigrants when so many law-abiding families are struggling to meet the ever-increasing costs of higher education for their own children." While NY and many other states allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates, only four other states, California, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, offer financial assistance to them.
The Assembly had passed the Dream Act, so yesterday's vote prompted Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to say, "The Senate’s refusal to pass this crucial measure is disappointing to me, but more importantly, it is blatantly unfair to the thousands of talented, ambitious young New Yorkers who are being denied a college education, simply because of their immigration status. The Assembly Majority has long championed college affordability for all of New York’s students."
Governor Cuomo added, "I’m disappointed that the New York State Senate failed to pass the New York State Dream Act and denied thousands of hardworking and high-achieving students equal access to higher education and the opportunity that comes with it. I will continue to work with supporters, stakeholders and members of the legislature to achieve this dream and build the support to pass this legislation and preserve New York’s legacy as a progressive leader."