Supporters of the DREAM Act simmered with anger Tuesday after they say a vote was mishandled over a proposed law that would have allowed college students in the country illegally to get financial aid. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
One day after the DREAM Act failed by just two votes in the state Senate, advocates are blaming Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein for bringing the bill to the floor before supporters had a chance to rally their troops.
"It was a setup. Yesterday we were set up," said state Senator Jose Peralta of Queens.
However, on Monday morning, hours before the vote, advocates held a City Hall press conference where they demanded a vote.
Klein said that Democrats didn't have a united conference.
"I think the question that the advocates really have to ask is why two duly elected Democratic state senators voted no," he said.
The two democrats are Ted O'Brien of Rochester and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn.
Felder, despite being a Democrat, sits with the Republicans. He was not eager to discuss his vote.
"I have nothing to say," he said. "I thought you wanted to discuss the tax credit."
So NY1 tried again.
"The tax credit is a wonderful way to educate children throughout the city," Felder said.
"Regardless of what Senator Felder calls himself, he's as Republican as anyone else sitting in the Republican conference," said state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan was in Albany Tuesday. He has been a vocal supporter of the DREAM Act, which provides state tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants.
"You bet we see it as a moral issue," Dolan said. "We see it as a patriotic issue. We see it as an American issue. We see it as a civil rights issue."
Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, who is against the DREAM Act, blamed the governor for the bill's failure.
"If Governor Cuomo really and truly wanted the DREAM Act to go through, he would have found a way, just like he did with other big bills that were important to him," Astorino said. "First of all, he could have called special elections for the vacancies."
Cuomo has said that he supports the DREAM Act. He told reporters Monday that he has had multiple conversations about the bill.