Students, labor leaders, and citizens' groups are calling on the State Senate to pass the New York DREAM Act, which would give undocumented youth access to state financial aid like the Tuition Assistance Program.
The act passed in the state Assembly earlier this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will sign it in to law if the Senate goes along.
Western New York Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz says economic and political justice on the job is a key goal of the labor movement.
"Immigrant workers deserve every consideration in the fight for these rights, including having higher education opportunities available to their children," Lipsitz said at a rally in downtown Buffalo Friday.
Brian Trzejak of Citizen Action says the DREAM Act would also improve the state's economy.
"With the amount of DREAM-eligible immigrants, there would be an increase of $368 million in individual income taxes and $212 [million] in business taxes by 2030. By denying their right, we're also denying income," Trzejak said.
"Hardworking students should not be denied the opportunity to fulfill their potential and make meaningful contributions to society because of their immigration status."
Supporters say if enacted, the bill would benefit thousands of students across the state.