In what is considered a surprise move by legislation, the New York State Senate voted against a bill on March 17th, which would have allowed state funding for tuition aid for undocumented immigrants.
The Republican-controlled Senate failed to pass the measure, even though there were more votes for the measure than against it (30 votes in favor versus 29 opposed). The measure needed 32 votes in favor to pass. All Republicans present voted against the bill, along with two Democrats.
Immigrants’ advocates have been courting the Senate for months and were expecting a different result, including a vote that would be happening at a later date. The Monday move was abrupt, with Republicans and Democrats deciding to vote on the measure at the last minute. Many advocates had planned a trip to the Capitol to lobby the measure, thus making the impromptu vote all the more frustrating.
Last month the Democratic-controlled State Assembly passed the measure, but it was unclear whether the bill had the necessary support in the Senate to make it to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk. Latino activists believed they were making headway, even though they were facing an uphill battle with Governor Cuomo not publicly supporting the measure. He did, however, say that he would sign it into law if the State Senate passed it.
The legislation would have allowed undocumented students meeting certain conditions to receive financial aid through state-run initiatives, such as the Tuition Assistance Program. Immigrant students would also have been able to open college savings accounts and apply for private scholarships created specifically for children of immigrants.