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DREAM Act Dominates Discussion at Somos el Futuro Conference

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The DREAM Act, which allows undocumented students to tap state resources in order to attend college, failed in the state Senate this past week, but that didn't stop it from dominating the conversation at the Somos el Futuro conference in Albany this weekend. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

ALBANY - If the DREAM Act is temporarily dead, you certainly wouldn't know it from talking to this crowd.

"We still have hope that we can get this in the state budget," said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo of the Bronx. "We believe that all the leadership should come back to the table to discuss this before we come to a full vote, and we're still hopeful that that can happen."

On Monday, the DREAM Act failed in a dramatic last-minute vote on the state Senate floor, falling just two votes shy. The bill had passed the Assembly earlier this year.

While some believe the senate vote killed the dream act's chances for passage in the near future, many Latino lawmakers are pushing Governor Andrew Cuomo to include it in the budget, which is due April 1.

"I think that the DREAM Act is not dead at all. I think that the dream is still alive," said Assemblyman Francisco Moya of Queens. "If we cannot get it in the budget, we're going to push to make sure that this will come to the floor once again."

Some believe that a vote, even a failed one, helps build momentum for a cause people strongly support.

"I know a thing of two about losing important votes. I just lost one on sexual assault in the military," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. "But with every failed vote, what is does is build momentum for the next vote."

Cuomo, who would need to push for the DREAM Act during private negotiations in order to get it in the budget, opted to hold a private reception for Somos attendees rather than speak at a public event.

"The governor invited us to the mansion. He did that with the black caucus as well," said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino showed up for Somos this weekend, just like he did for the San Juan event back in November, something the governor also skipped.

"Let's not fool ourselves, Somos is mainly a little left of center, but that's OK," Astorino said. "I'm coming here and I'm telling people, 'Look, I want to work with you. We may not agree on everything, but I want to work with you.'"

Privately, lawmakers concede that it's unlikely that the DREAM Act will end up in the budget. That said, the final budget is still more than a week away, and anything can happen. There is certainly a belief that even if it doesn't happen right away, the DREAM Act is inevitable in New York State.

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