Vows to continue to fight for true equality for New Jersey DREAMers

NEWARK – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) supports the passage of a bill that grants in-state tuition at public colleges to undocumented students who have gone to a New Jersey high school for at least three years and earned a high school diploma or GED in New Jersey. The bill also gives undocumented students a chance to apply for financial aid.

Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to sign the bill into law after removing a provision that allows undocumented students to apply for financial aid.

The following is a statement from Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU-NJ:

Today is a historic day in New Jersey, but the fight is not over. We commend the state Assembly and Senate for announcing the imminent passage of the New Jersey Dream Act and recognizing that all hardworking students in New Jersey deserve equal access to a college education, regardless of their immigration status. Although undocumented immigrants will now qualify for in-state tuition, by vetoing access to financial aid, Gov. Chris Christie is preventing many students from being treated equally by New Jersey -- the state in which they pay taxes, have gone to school, and call home.

We are disappointed that Gov. Christie has indicated that he plans to conditionally veto a bill that would help end discrimination in access to higher education. More than 64 million people live in states that provide financial aid to students regardless of their immigration status. It is time for New Jerseyans to be afforded the same rights and benefits as tens of millions of other state residents across the nation.

Gov. Christie has said he supports tuition equality and that every child should have the opportunity to reach their potential. But his veto will put up a roadblock for many of New Jersey's best and brightest students who cannot afford the skyrocketing cost of a college education.

True equality means having an equal chance at having the same opportunities as one's peers – including the chance to apply for financial aid. While today we celebrate this important victory for New Jersey immigrant communities, we will continue to work with Dreamers, advocates and legislators to push for true equality.