Press Release

Gillibrand Takes Action to Pass the DREAM Act

Apr 2, 2009

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today took action to pass the DREAM Act.  Senator Gillibrand became a co-sponsor of the legislation, which would provide better educational opportunity for New York’s immigrant students.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to achieve his or her God given potential,” Senator Gillibrand said.  “Current law is unfairly punishing thousands of young people who have spent nearly their entire lives in this country.  America is the only home many of them know, yet they are being denied the opportunity to achieve their full potential.  This legislation says that if they work hard and play by the rules, then they will have the opportunity to get a good education and earn their way to legal status.”

The DREAM Act would make college more affordable for immigrant students and their families by repealing outdated regulations that effectively deny in-state tuition and other higher education benefits to immigrant students and puts students 16 years old or younger on a path for citizenship upon acceptance to higher education or high school graduation.

The DREAM Act sets clear eligibility guidelines for students to participate.  Individuals must:

  • Have arrived here at the age of 15 or under;
  • Have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years;
  • Graduate from high school or earn their GED;
  • Serve in the military or attend college for at least two years; and
  • Have good moral character.

Estimates indicate 50,000 to 65,000 students would benefit from the DREAM Act each year.  These are young people who must have every opportunity to get a good education today, so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow.

The DREAM Act would create better opportunity for New York’s immigrant students in two ways:

First, it would repeal an outdated section of immigration law that discourages states from providing in-state tuition and other higher education benefits to New York students born outside the U.S., and without legal immigration status – making college more affordable for all students and their families. 

Second, the bill would allow students who are eligible for the DREAM Act to qualify for conditional permanent resident status – putting them on a path to citizenship upon acceptance to college, graduation from high school or being awarded a G.E.D.  This would give students six years to obtain this temporary status, during which the student must have graduated from a two-year college or vocational college, studied for at least two years toward a bachelor’s or higher degree or served two years in the U.S. military.  Any student who commits a crime or serious misconduct would not be eligible.

As a mother of two, Senator Gillibrand is committed to improving education for all New York students.  She is a strong supporter of President Obama’s economic plan, which makes critical investments to make higher education affordable for every student and prepare New York students for the jobs of the future.