Around 5,000 undocumented students graduate annually from New York public schools but many do not go to college because they haven't the money to enroll, even though the state legislature passed a bill providing them with access to state financial aid.
A group of "dreamers," as they are known, called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday to include $17 million in funding for the New York Dream Act in the next budget.
"Take the bandages off your eyes so you can see us, we want to move ahead," the Mexican Irma Karina Cruz Velez, a senior at Staten Island College, said with reference to the fact that Cuomo never even mentioned immigrants in his recent State of the State address.
Cruz Velez, who benefited from the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, denied that students want to use public funds in exchange for nothing.
"That's not true. We pay taxes," she said.
City University of New York is estimated to have some 4,500 undocumented students and the State University of New York system has 2,000 more.
At a press conference Monday on the steps of the New York City Public Library, the group of young people said they need access to financial aid to continue their studies.
Luis Saavedra is close to graduating from CUNY Lehman College, but he did it by working part-time and with scholarships from the private sector. On Monday he was there to be heard.
"I work, but the money isn't enough. I pay my enrollment and sometimes I give to my parents for their expenses," he told Efe. EFE