Letters to the Editor

Illegal aliens to benefit from higher education bill

To the editor:

New York State Assembly candidate for the 111th A.D. Tom Quackenbush (R,C-Fort Plain), announced today that he opposes legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to allow illegal aliens who "meet certain criteria" to receive education subsidies at taxpayer expense.

"My grandparents arrived in this country legally from Italy and struggled to realize the American dream, but made it. We need to encourage more legal immigration, not provide handouts to those who have already broken our laws," said Quackenbush. "How do you justify spending millions in taxpayer dollars to fund college assistance for illegal aliens when middle-class families can barely stay in their homes? The number of illegal aliens in New York state is unknown, yet the speaker wants to spend millions to send them to college? That's absurd, and I adamantly oppose this legislation."

Quackenbush noted that if there were 90,000 illegal immigrants in New York state, and all were eligible to receive the maximum TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) benefit of $5,000, it would cost taxpayers $450 million annually.

According to the bill, illegal immigrants who qualify for "deferred action status" will be allowed to access tuition assistance programs that are currently prohibited for illegal aliens. The legislation requires the New York state commissioner of education, in conjunction with the president of the Higher Education Service Corp., to create an application to qualify students for New York state programs if they cannot apply for federal aid.

"Our upstate school districts are busy cutting programs for school children and over 890,000 New Yorkers need a job. If the Legislature is going to propose to spend millions on a program for illegal aliens, I would suggest making that money go toward something for the citizens of this state and country who actually pay taxes, such as unfunded mandate relief, property-tax relief or opportunities for businesses to create jobs -- these are smart solutions that taxpayers want from their elected officials, not what is being proposed."

Thomas L. Quackenbush,

Fort Plain

The writer is town of Minden supervisor and a candidate for state Assembly in the 111th District.

Together, we can save lives

To the editor:

Did you know that nearly 37,000 die by suicide each year in the United States? That's one person every 14 minutes. These are more than just numbers; they represent our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

The New York State Senate has declared September as Suicide Prevention Month in New York state. What better time for our communities to learn more about suicide and how to prevent it? Learning some of the key suicide warning signs such as feeling hopeless, withdrawing from friends and family and making suicidal statements can help save lives. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or just needs to talk, call 800-273-TALK (8255). Help is available 24 hours a day, every day.

Another way the community can help is by participating in the upcoming Capital Region Out of the Darkness Walk for RITA on Sunday, Sept. 16, at the Saratoga Race Course. Whether or not you have been personally touched by suicide, I encourage you to participate. The money raised at this event will support the mission of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (www.afsp.org) by funding national and local suicide prevention programs and research.

To register for the walk, please visit www.outofthedarkness.org or call 1.888.333.AFSP (2377).

Together, we can save lives.

Marianne Reid, Amsterdam