JERSEY CITY - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, today said sequestration's draconian cuts to education - that were never intended to happen - was just one of the reasons why he voted against the legislation that made the sequester possible.

"While we need to be smart about our budget challenges, sequestration was not the right way to reduce the deficit and cut spending," said Senator Menendez. "It's simply bad policy to cut work study for low-income students and state grants that help students afford the cost of college."

The remarks were made as part of Senator Menendez's keynote address to the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators, which held its 5th annual Best Practices Conference at New Jersey City University. Explaining how sequestration was short-changing students in New Jersey, the Senator said 1,480 fewer low income students will receive aid to help finance college costs, and about 650 fewer students will get work-study jobs to help pay for college.

Senator Menendez said that he and other Senators are trying to bring about an agreement to end the sequester.

In speaking about his efforts as part of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" group of Senators toward Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation, Senator Menendez said he was "genuinely encouraged" by the consensus of the group, and noted that in January a set of bipartisan principles was released.

Senator Menendez noted that an important part of the work toward immigration reform is the DREAM Act, and he urged for Congress to pass the legislation.

"While President Obama used his authority to help Dream students, that was only a temporary solution," he said. "Ultimately, Congress must pass the Dream Act within comprehensive immigration reform to allow these students to work legally and earn a path to citizenship."