NEW YORK CITY, NY – New York’s state Senate passed the Dream Act, which will provide access to state college tuition aid to undocumented immigrants’ children, on Wednesday. The bill was renamed to honor state Sen. Jose Peralta, who championed the cause before his death from cancer.

“After years of advocacy, DREAMers in New York will finally be able to step out of the shadows and use higher education to live their American Dream,” said Manhattan Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, who sponsored the bill. “This is a historic moment for New York State.”

The Jose Peralta New York Dream Act, which passed with a 40-20 vote, will allow New York children, regardless of immigration status, to qualify for merit-based scholarships and the New York State Tuition Assistance Program if they meet certain criteria.

Applicants must have done one of the following:

  • Graduated from a New York state high school they attended for at least two years;
  • Applied for college within five years of receiving a high school diploma;
  • Graduated from a certified high school equivalency program
  • Be otherwise eligible for in-state tuition.

The bill is expected to pass easily through the lower chamber, according to Bronx Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“The Assembly Majority believes in breaking down barriers, not creating them,” said Heastie. “We have repeatedly passed the DREAM Act because we know it is economically misguided and morally unjust to deprive students educated in our very own public schools of the tools they need to be successful.”

Once passed by the Assembly, the Dream Act will go to Governor Cuomo to sign, which he has pledged to do, according to the New York Times.

Several New York Dreamers came forward to champion the bill and share what it will mean for their futures.

“I was shut out from pursuing higher education because I did not have access to state financial aid,” said Karen Garcia, DREAMer and Make the Road New York activist. “All students, regardless of immigration status, will be able to pursue their dreams and go to college.”

“Education is a human right,” added Yohan Garcia. “I am more than glad that today we are working collectively to make sure that this right is granted to all undocumented youth in the State of New York.”