Education

Christie Signs Dream Act Making Immigrants' Kids Eligible for In-State Tuition

January 8, 2014

Gov. Chris Christie today urged the children of immigrants who came to this country illegally to "make the most of the opportunity" to pay in-state tuition at New Jersey’s colleges and universities under the Dream Act.

The Republican governor signed the bill in private last month, but he highlighted the new law today, signing a reproduction of the bill, while flanked by Democratic lawmakers before hundreds of students.

"You’re an inspiration to us because in you we see all that our country can be," Christie said in the American flag-draped gym at Colin Powell Elementary School in Union City. "In you we see, most importantly, infinite possibilities of the human spirit."

Christie’s speech followed remarks by a parade of elected officials, including the incoming Assembly speaker, Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) and state Sen. Brian Stack (D-Hudson), who is also mayor of the predominantly Hispanic Union City. Christie praised Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who he said was in Washington today.

The governor announced his support for the Dream Act shortly before winning re-election in November. But after the election he said he opposed a provision that would make students eligible for state financial aid. The bill ultimately passed without the financial aid piece.

Christie said even those who are "cold hearted" about the issue can’t argue with the economic benefit of extending in-state tuition to students in whom the state already invests tens of thousands of public education dollars. "An investment made should be an investment maximized," he said.

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