Dream Act Passes State Assembly

February 26, 2014 Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 12:18 AM EDT

By John Borsa

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February 26, 2014 Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 12:18 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The New York State Assembly passed the Dream Act on Tuesday, which would allow illegal immigrants access to tuition assistance programs like TAP.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would sign the bill into law if it made its way to his desk.

The Dream Act would give college students living in the U.S. illegally access to $25 million in funding.

Those who support the measure said it is the right thing to do and would open opportunities for young people who immigrated to the country as children, but work and pay taxes like legal citizens.

Coming on the heels of Cuomo's plan to offer free college classes to prisoners, opponents said the bill is unfair to those who struggle to make ends meet while providing for higher education.

“The DREAM Act is wrong for the hard-working families of upstate New York who have played by the rules and are still burdened with crushing student loan debt," said Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia), who voted against the measure.

"Young New Yorkers who are willing to work hard and study hard should not be denied educational opportunities simply on the basis of their immigration status," said State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. "Our goal is to make sure all students graduate ready for college or a career."

California and Texas already have similar laws on the books.

Illegal immigrants who reside in New York already benefit from residency by paying in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities in the state.