Despite what you hear from Senate President Steve Sweeney that the Governor “never fails to disappoint,” the Governor is thisclose to signing the DREAM Act, which extends in-state tuition rates for state colleges to the children of illegal immigrants.

The only caveat is that he doesn’t want to sign the Senate’s version of the bill.
That’s what has Senator Sweeney pissed.

In their version, the bill would also allow these students to apply for state grants, which the Governor opposes, and also, through a loophole, would allow those students from out of state - no matter their immigration status - attending private boarding schools here to also qualify for the in-state rate.

The Assembly’s version of the bill is the one the Governor would likely sign. It would simply grant the in-state rates to the children of illegal immigrants provided they attended high school for 3 years and make a pledge to upgrade their status to legal in a reasonable amount of time.

Again, I emphasize “would likely” – since he’s expressed support for the idea of granting the in-state rates but hasn’t given too many details.

Gov. Chris Christie said he would not sign the current Senate version of the so-called Dream Act, but that he still wants to extend in-state tuition to the children of immigrants who came to this country illegally.

The Senate on Nov. 18 approved the measure (S2479), which advocates say will affect tens of thousands of New Jersey residents. A different version of the bill is working its way through the Assembly, where leaders say they expect to put it up for a vote soon.

The Assembly version covers in-state tuition, but not financial aid, which is in the Senate bill, according to Assembly Democrats spokesman Tom Hester Jr.

Christie did not lay out all of his problems with the Senate bill, but he said that Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the prime sponsor, know what they are.

The governor did point to a loophole in the bill that could allow out-of-state residents – regardless of their immigration status – to qualify for in-state tuition if they attend private high school in New Jersey.

State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) has said she abstained on the bill for that reason, and because New Jersey residents could move to other states for years, then return and qualify for in-state tuition because they went to high school here.

These provisions could make New Jersey a “magnet state” for students seeking in-state tuition, Christie said.

“I think most people in New Jersey would go, ‘Well that’s stupid, let’s fix that.’ We asked the Senate to change that, they have not,” Christie said.

Christie — who won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote in his Nov. 5 re-election, according to exit polls — has expressed general support for the idea of in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, but has offered little in the way of details. He previously opposed the idea, citing tight budgets, but reversed his position days before the election.

So the smart money is that he’ll sign the bill, making the DREAM Act law, as we join at least 16 other states in offering in-state state college tuition rates to the children of illegals.

However, one does wonder how this will play on the national stage should he announce a run for President in 2016 – especially with the conservative wing of his party.

Could his support for this bill hurt his chances for nomination – or would it wake the Republicans up to the fact that they need to garner more support from Hispanics – which is what the Governor has accomplished in the last election. (51% of the Hispanic vote.)

Given all that, would you support the Governor signing even a modified version of the DREAM Act into law?

At this point, presidential politics come into play, but since we all have a dog in this hunt, I'd have to go with not supporting any version of the bill - since, again, it legitimizes the crime their parents committed upon coming here illegally. It also underscores how unfair it is to legal out of state residents who wish to attend state colleges here - having to pay out-of-state rates.

And on and on - but it matters little.

2016 beckons!