Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, expressed his opposition Thursday to the reintroduction of Assembly bill 2597, known as the Dream Act, by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The measure would allow illegal aliens who "meet certain criteria" to receive higher education subsidies at taxpayer expense.
Ceretto argued that the bill would increase costs to the state's already overburdened taxpayers. He noted that, if there were 90,000 illegal immigrants in New York state, and all were eligible to receive the maximum TAP (tuition assistance program) benefit of $5,000, it would cost taxpayers $450 million annually.
"This bill would require greater sacrifices from hardworking Western New York families - the same families buried under tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt and facing a struggling economy," Ceretto said. "Rather than spend hundreds of millions of dollars to send illegal aliens to college, I believe the Legislature should be working to pass legislation to provide greater employment opportunities for New York's college graduates, lower the cost of living for struggling families and improve our faltering economy."
Under the bill, illegal aliens who qualify for "deferred action status" will be allowed to access tuition-assistance programs that are currently prohibited for the undocumented.
"Massive student loan debt has eroded the quality of life for countless young New Yorkers and is changing our economy," Ceretto said. "Before we start giving away taxpayer funds to illegal immigrants, we need to address the 'student loan crisis' in order to find solutions to help graduates break free from the shackles of debt."