Long Island supporters of the New York State DREAM Act took to the streets Wednesday afternoon, urging Brentwood residents to call Sen. Lee M. Zeldin’s (R- Shirley) office in support of the bill that would allow undocumented immigrant students to qualify for state financial aid.
Zeldin opposes the proposed measure, which has not mustered enough support among state lawmakers to pass into law since first introduced in March 2011.
“Unfortunately, Senator Zeldin has decided to sit on the sidelines as bright, young people in his district are unable to attend college because they do not have access to financial aid,” said Karina Claudio Betancourt, spokeswoman for Make the Road New York, a Brooklyn-based advocacy group with a satellite office in Brentwood.
Betancourt said more than a dozen students from Brentwood and Islip high schools planned to spend Wednesday canvassing Brentwood – a hamlet in Suffolk County where 68 percent of residents are Hispanic according to 2010 Census figures – encouraging neighbors to call Zeldin’s office.
In a email statement to Newsday on Wednesday Zeldin wrote: “I do not support expanding eligibility for college scholarships to undocumented immigrants at the expense of immigrants who are lawfully in our country.”
He added: “Clearly, our country’s current immigration system is not working, and I hope the Federal government develops a more effective process. The need to address our nation’s illegal immigration problem is critical for the long term success of our republic.”
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