BY CHRISTOPHER HOFMANN
As a college student and life-long resident of the State of New York, I find it imperative to speak up about a policy that doesn’t help a single citizen in our state. Welcome to the student and taxpayer nightmare known as the “DREAM act.”
Presumed dead in June after failing to gain enough support in the state senate, the “DREAM act” resumed life last week after being passed in the Assembly. The bill would take an initial $27 million in taxpayer funds to allow undocumented illegal aliens to qualify for TAP (state Tuition Assistance Program) funding.
The “DREAM act” was supported by some of the most prominent members of the Hudson Valley Democratic Assembly Majority, including Assemblyman James Skoufis. Skoufis is a major proponent of this legislation, having voted for the bill three straight times while serving in the Assembly. The Assemblyman has even been honored for his persistent anti-taxpayer, anti-student stance.
As a student at one of the most expensive undergraduate universities in America, my fellow students and I are all too aware about the daily struggle of affording a college education. We have counted on critical state programs like TAP, while working several jobs and taking out repressive student loans that will take decades to pay back. Far from alone in this experience, our parents share too the burdens of higher education as they struggle along to help us achieve outmost success.
Sadly, over the years cutbacks and drawdowns of scholarships and tuition assistance have occurred. New York students seeking graduate level degrees for instance are no longer eligible for TAP. Many Hudson Valley families with two working parents exceed the maximum income threshold despite barely being able to make normal month-to-month expenses, let alone the cost of higher education.
Understanding the financial hardships of higher education, it is unconceivable why our elected officials would pursue policies that make illegal immigrants the primary recipients of relief paid for by struggling citizens. Assemblyman Skoufis is the member of the state legislature to most recently graduate from college, and him and his colleagues continuous support and advocacy for such a policy that hurts current college students is disgusting and wrong.
More alarming now is Governor Cuomo has used the Hudson Valley Democratic Assembly members support of the DREAM act as a launch pad to introduce a budget proposal that would link passage of the “DREAM act” with TAP funds. The structure of the bill prevents the legislature from rejecting tuition assistance to illegal immigrants without jeopardizing over $1 Billion in tuition assistance for nearly 400,000 students. It is appalling that Governor Cuomo and the Hudson Valley Democrats lead by Mr. Skoufis would create a hostage situation with the few benefits available to help struggling families pay for their children’s education.
Having TAP funds contingent on passing the “DREAM act”, Mr. Skoufis, his democratic colleagues, and the Governor have made it clear that needs of hardworking New Yorker’s takes a back seat to the those of illegal immigrants.
I hope all hardworking New York taxpayers and students join with me in opposing the “DREAM act.” I also ask Assemblyman Skoufis and his colleagues to stop their support of “DREAM” or they may very well kill mine.
Christopher Hofmann is a student at New York University, New York City Regional Chair for New York Federation of College Republicans, and a long time Hudson Valley resident.