Fulfilling the dream for undocumented students in New Jersey
The New Jersey State Assembly approved a new measure on Tuesday that will allow "extending state financial aid for undocumented students" beginning in the fall.
State autonomy sets the tone again in the fight against federal division and racism in the Trump era.
The new legislation, explains the media, "extends financial aid administered by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority or by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to undocumented students in New Jersey who are living in the country illegally, as long as they meet certain requirements."
This new step is fundamental in a political moment in which the Trump administration has insisted on dismantling the Obama Era Program of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), despite the opposition found in minor courts.
According to the report, in New Jersey, there are 17,400 young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country when they were children (better known as Dreamers) who are part of a huge community of around 800,000 nationwide, and whose fate is still hanging by a thread due to partisan disagreements within Congress.
For the sponsors of the new measure, this gesture is not about a political issue but "about a statement of who we are and where we want to be as a state," said Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic). "If we look at it totally from a selfish perspective as a state, this will help (the Dreamers) going to and graduating college, becoming taxpayers and aiding in helping grow the New Jersey economy."
However, the most critical conservatives have denounced that it is a diversion of funds that should be devoted to "legal" citizens.
"Treating non-citizens better than citizens, I think, is fundamentally wrong," said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), emphasizing that undocumented students already have scholarships at their universities. "This is just another pot to subsidize non-citizens and take (funds) away from citizens in the state."
Webber refers to the New Jersey Tuition Equality Act of 2013, that allowed "all undocumented students who meet certain criteria to qualify for state tuition fees at all New Jersey higher education institutions."
The measure approved by the Assembly on Tuesday will expand the possibilities of undocumented youth to acquire the full funding they need to be fully trained without so many obstacles, as long as they meet requirements similar to those of the 2013 act.
The proposal was approved last month by the state Senate and only waits for the signature of Governor Phil Murphy to go into effect.
If Murphy was to do so, New Jersey will then join states like California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, New Mexico and Hawaii, which already have similar funding measures.