Joining them on the stage were students who said they were not afraid to discuss their undocumented status in an attempt to bring light to their personal experiences.
Katherine Tavares, 17, spoke about her life as an illegal immigrant. She attended the International High School at LaGuardia, but was unable to get a scholarship to continue her education because of her immigration status.
Her mother brought her to the United States from Colombia when she was young. Tavares said that she works more than one job in order to pay her tuition at LGCC.
“This bill will benefit both the student and the state,” Tavares said. “Having a financial source from the state will mean the ability to continue my education.”
Speaker Christine Quinn said that while the student will lose out on an education if they cannot afford the tuition, “the whole city, state and country are also going to lose.”
Quinn then called on New York State to lead the way and pass legislation allowing for tuition assistance for undocumented students.
“You have hard working New York students who are smart, who could go to any college of their dreams and go forward and change the world in unbelievable ways,” she said. “But if their secondary education gets cut off just because of their immigration status, that’s not going to happen.”
Emily Park, 24, talked about her experiences as an undocumented immigrant from Korea living in Flushing. She has lived in Queens for the majority of her life, but because of her immigration status she was ineligible for certain scholarships that would have made it easier for her to attend college. Park recently graduated from Queens College.
“There are so many motivated hard-working students who wan to fulfill their educational dreams,” she said. “Unfortunately, some of us take six or seven years to finish college.”