Karen Garcia came to this country from Mexico with her parents when she was just three years old.
She is now in her first year at Suffolk County Community college on Long Island.
"I had to pay out of pocket my first semester, and it’s something that would not have been sustainable for the next four years," Garcia said.
With the DREAM Act, students, including Karen, who are undocumented can gain access to state financial assistance to attend college.
"For years, the Assembly majority has committed to putting families and students first,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “Today we will pass the DREAM Act for the ninth and final time.”
“To every young immigrant hearing my words, we love you. We see you,” Evelyn Peralta said. “And we welcome you into our American family. The spirit of my husband is alive in this room today.”
“To give tuition assistance and free tuition to individuals who are in our country unlawfully when we have middle class families -- both citizens and legal residents who are struggling with a tremendous amount of debt or working multiple jobs to pay for college -- is really misguided and unfair to the taxpayers of this state,” Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said.
The Senate also passed a bill making the two percent cap on property taxes permanent. Insiders say it was aimed at giving cover to suburban Democrats who voted for the DREAM Act, which may not be popular in their districts. The property tax bill did not pass the Assembly.