New York immigrant rights advocates and politicians are calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to press the Empire State's Senate Republicans to pass its version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

While New York State lawmakers are working on its budget proposals, Senate Republicans said a proposal to allow undocumented immigrant college students to receive state tuition assistance was dropped from the budget plan.

New York Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who represents the state's 39th District in Queens, accused one of the lawmakers involved in negotiating the state's budget of xenophobia and having a "lack of foresight." Moya also called on Cuomo to take the lead from Senate Republicans and reopen talks about the DREAM Act.

"Right now, two of the 'three men in the room' negotiating the budget understand the importance of the DREAM Act and how it will benefit this state. Unfortunately, one of the three men has his head stuck in the sand," said Moya in a statement. "His xenophobia and lack of foresight has even made him willing to kill his own initiative, the Education Investment Tax Credit, a measure that would benefit his own constituents. He is willing to kill two educational initiatives for the sake political convenience."

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"We look to Governor Cuomo to show true leadership and to bring Senator Dean Skelos back to the table to open up talks on the DREAM Act, just as he has in the past with tough issues like marriage equality and the [Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE)] Act," added Moya. "On the campaign trail, Governor Cuomo made a pact with the people of New York -- he said he would make sure the DREAM Act was signed into law. Now is the time to make good on that promise."

In an op-ed, Cuomo said one of his first goals ("and maybe the most important step from the perspective of students and their families") is access to quality education, including the DREAM Act.

Cuomo wrote, "The DREAM Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for college tuition assistance from the state. It is in keeping with New York's tradition of welcoming immigrants to our state. Unlike what we are seeing in other states, here in New York we are not afraid of immigrants. We invite immigrants knowing that diversity makes us stronger."

The New York governor noted the DREAM Act would cost $27 million from the $141 billion budget.

New York lawmakers, including Moya, have long called for improved rights for the undocumented immigrant community. As Latin Post reported, Moya and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo of The Bronx proposed an expansion of New York City's New York Immigrant Family Unit Project (NYIFUP). The NYIFUP program offers undocumented immigrants a public defender with the goal of reducing deportation rates and saving families who have been abiding the laws and productive in the state.

According to Crespo, NYIFUP is a program that will save the state money, but would also provide immigrants with equal opportunity when meeting a court judge while understanding what is developing during the proceedings and present their defense.

"The fact of the matter is that the State of New York benefits tremendously, both economically in terms of economic development, in terms of revenues raised and in so many ways in our quality of life thanks to the immigrant communities in this state," said Crespo. "That should not be understated, that should be celebrated and this is one way that we can respond to the needs of this community and that is with a smart investment in the NYIFUP."  

According to Moya's office, a statewide NYIFUP program would cost $4.3 million, or $0.78 cents per income taxpayer, per year.

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