Newark, NJ- New Jersey students who are in the country without legal authorization will now have the opportunity to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities after both Democrats and Republicans in the state compromised on the state’s version of the “DREAM Act.”
After months of debate, Gov. Chris Christie compromised with the Democrat-controlled legislature to draft the new legislation. Now, the state will become the 17th state to allow immigrants without legal status to pay in-state tuition at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities.
Gov. Christie said signing the new legislation was part of his promise to push for tuition equality and he was pleased with the deal he brokered with Democrats. Under the bill, undocumented immigrants will be allowed to pay in-state tuition as long as they attended school in New Jersey for at least three years, the Star-Ledger reported.
“The most important thing is for these young men and women of our state, who we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their K-12 education, we’re now going to give them an opportunity in an affordable way to be able to continue their education,” Christie said in Trenton as he signed the bill on December 20th.
Whilst this will certainly make things more affordable, naturally, there will still be families who will struggle to pay for college tuition. There is a list of ways to pay for college over on the GoFundMe blog, which you can find at https://www.gofundme.com/c/blog/pay-for-college. Nobody should be denied a college education because of financial worries.
The original draft of the bill (S2479) was conditionally vetoed because it included a provision allowing immigrants without legal status to apply for financial aid and grants. Gov. Christie was opposed to this provision, and conditionally vetoed the bill which went back to the Senate and the Assembly for the necessary changes.
Democrats have vowed to continue pushing for financial aid for undocumented students, but were pleased with the compromise they were able to reach with Republicans, which they described as historic.
New Jersey is among the dozen or more states that are taking steps to help DREAMERS– young immigrants who were brought into the country without authorization by their parents. Lawmakers on that national and state level recognize the challenges these DREAMERS face and have worked to help them succeed in school and work, and become legally recognized. I, too, understand the difficulties DREAMERS face and would gladly help them with any of their immigration endeavors.
Last summer, President Obama introduced an initiative that would allow young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was highly praised and over a year into the program, nearly a half a million young immigrants have applied for deportation relief. I have helped about a dozen young adults, some with simple cases and some with complicated cases, obtain Deferred Action since the program began.
DACA is available to immigrants who were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and who entered the country when they were under the age of 16. Immigrants, who are eligible for deferred action, are able to obtain work visas and avoid deportation for two years. The status is renewable at the end of the two-year period, unless a new policy or law changes that in the future.
Applying for the DACA program can be complicated and requires specific documentation. I can assist an immigrant with his or her DACA and an overall immigration strategy.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, and don’t qualify for DACA, there may be other steps you can take to obtain legal status. I can explain the different options, you have and, together, we can work to protect your future.