New York has become a battle ground. I’m not joking. We have until June to pass the New York Dream Act and all hands are on deck coordinating events, from calling, petitioning, to over night vigils and weeks of action. As the end of the legislative session approaches, efforts to get the bill up for a vote have become stronger.
Rested and energized, 15 New York undocumented youth and supporters started a 150 mile march, dubbed the Walk to Albany, on April 9, 2012. They plan to reach Albany on April 17th and all this for a bill which would open the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to all youth regardless of immigration status. Not too long ago 3 fighters were arrested while participating in a peaceful demonstration in front of the Governor’s office. The ask is loud and clear, pass the New York Dream Act in 2012.
Along the walk, youth from the New York State Youth Leadership Council have stopped at various universities who are holding welcoming events for the walkers. They have shared their stories of being undocumented and how they overcame certain struggles while still facing others. Aside from visiting legislators, the most important aspect of this walk in my opinion, is listening to the experiences of those who, for various reasons, have been afraid of sharing them before. The walkers continue to inspire others to come out, undocumented and unafraid, as they make their way to Albany walking a minimum of 15 miles a day. While their feet and legs are tired, sneakers are now starting to break and blisters are building, their souls still fight for the right to have equal access to education.
It’s a shame to see that New York, which once welcomed immigrants through Ellis Island, can’t pass its state Dream Act. Governor Andrew Cuomo is still studying this bill while Mayor Bloomberg has already stated his support for it alongside other public figures and institutions. Cuomo cannot continue to speak at events about the importance of education and immigrants while not being able to unite the intersectionalities of both, which are obviously represented in the New York Dream Act. How can the Governor honestly receive awards and recognition for his work as a leader in New York but hasn’t found the courage to come out in support of undocumented youth? How far would you go for higher education? Undocumented youth have shown true bravery and leadership over the past years, and will continue to do so as long as these oppressive systems of injustice and adversity continue to knock on our door.