New Jersey governor and rumored GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie says he supports tuition equity for undocumented immigrant students, just not S2479, the New Jersey DREAM Act passed by the state legislature last month which would offer that very benefit.
Democratic lawmakers are accusing Christie of flip-flopping his position from remarks he made this fall during his successful re-election campaign. On Monday, Christie denied those allegations. “I said the legislature should move in the lame duck session towards tuition equality in New Jersey. Period,” ABC reported. “That’s what I said. I didn’t support any particular piece of legislation. And I still support tuition equality.”
But to advocates of the state’s tuition equity bill, Christie’s support of S2479 seemed clear. In an October speech in front of Latino civic groups, Christie said he supported tuition equity for “everybody in New Jersey,” the Associated Press reported.
Christie’s recent remarks certainly aren’t sitting well with Democratic lawmakers and the state’s Latino community, over half of whom voted for Christie during his November re-election—just weeks before he publicly said he wasn’t satisfied with the current bill. His support from New Jersey Latino voters was such a triumph that Republican groups are studying his win for clues to 2016.
Disingenuous campaign promises may have been part of his winning formula. “When he was running for governor, he supported it. Now that he is running for president, he does not,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, told the AP on Friday.
Unless states proactively extend tuition equity to students regardless of status, undocumented students, even those who have grown up in their home states, are considered non-residents and must pay out-of-state tuition, which is often two to three times the in-state rate. What’s more, undocumented students are ineligible for federal financial aid or grants, often making higher education prohibitively expensive.
If signed, New Jersey would become the fourth state, alongside Texas, California and New Mexico, to offer in-state tuition as well as financial aid eligibility to undocumented students.