In New Jersey, illegal alien students are now eligible to receive state financial aid to fund their college educations under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Governor Phil Murphy.
During his campaign, Murphy had pledged to support a measure to extend in-state financial aid to ‘Dreamers’ — undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
“We know New Jerseyans support the ability of our Dreamers to not only remain in our state but to become a strong and contributing part of our society and our economy,” Murphy said in a statement shortly after signing the bill in Newark. “By allowing them to not only go to college but to qualify for financial assistance, we are living up to that ideal.”
The bill, S699, passed the New Jersey State Senate 27-10 in March, and made it through the Assembly in April 49-24 almost exclusively along party lines. A lone Democrat, Joe Danielsen of Middlesex County, voted against the bill. In 2013, then-Governor Chris Christie signed a bill permitting undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition rates, but Christie refused to consider the original draft of that bill which also included the offer of state-funded financial aid. That provision was removed from the bill he ultimately signed.
Christie said he was against the original draft because it would make New Jersey a magnet state for immigrants, and cost the taxpayers too much. S699 was sponsored by New Jersey Assemblyman Gary Schaer, (D- Passaic) who called the bill ‘the other piece of the puzzle needed’ to help students succeed.
“This is not a political issue, but this is a statement of who we are and where we want to go as a state,” Schaer said. “I think that it’s vitally important for New Jersey that we afford these children the opportunity to go to college. If we look at it totally from a selfish perspective as a state, this will help [them] going to and graduating college, becoming taxpayers and aiding in helping grow the New Jersey economy.”
“Given the ever-escalating costs, many students, even with in-state tuition rates are finding college more and more financially unattainable…this assistance available will make higher education a reality for these aspiring students.”
But this measure brings with it sharp criticism from its opponents.
“Treating non-citizens better than citizens, I think, is fundamentally wrong,” Assemblyman Jay Webber (R/Morris) said. “We are a compassionate state and want to see every student succeed and reach his or her full potential, but we and our taxpayers have limited resources, and enormous educational benefits already are provided to non-citizens. Compassion does not compel us to provide limitless public benefits to anyone who finds himself within our borders.”
And who will pay?
Webber says this bill will divert some financial aid that would be available for citizens and give it to non-citizens. The Assemblyman also pointed out that the governor has said he wants to raise taxes by $1.7 billion to make ends meet.
“He wants to raise our income tax, our sales tax, tax for businesses…take, take, take, spend, spend spend…there has to be an end to it,” he said.
Other critics say any money available to help students attend college should go to those already living in this country legally. To be eligible for aid under this bill, applicants must demonstrate financial need by submitting their parents income tax information. They must also have attended high school in New Jersey for three years, graduated from a New Jersey high school and be enrolled in a college in the state. “Undocumented students” must also file an affidavit with their college stating they will file an application to legalize their immigration status.
Naturally, the state wasted no time implementing this law; the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application for illegal immigrants went live the morning after Murphy signed the bill. In its fiscal analysis of the bill, the Office of Legislative Services says the state will have to appropriate an additional $4.47 million to provide Tuition Aid grants to newly eligible students. The state already has $425.9 million set aside for grants in the current fiscal year.
New Jersey is the tenth state to allow illegal aliens to obtain financial aid, joining Minnesota, Oregon, Connecticut, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, Washington and Hawaii.
~ Conservative Zone