NEW JERSEY 101.5

A group of New Jersey mayors have sent a letter to state lawmakers, urging them to pass the so-called DREAM act, which would allow undocumented students in New Jersey to qualify for in-state tuition and state scholarships.

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The State Senate Budget Committee will consider the bill on Thursday.

The letter is signed by mayors of three of the state’s largest four towns who represent more than one million New Jersey residents.

“Tuition equity and assistance to qualified, undocumented immigrant college students is necessary to give our state the diverse, highly skilled workforce we need to win the future,” the letter stated. The letter also pointed to the “terrible waste of municipal, state and federal dollars previously spent educating these young Dreamers in our local schools.”

The Senate version of the bill includes tuition equality and access to state aid for undocumented students provided they meet eligibility requirements: such as three years in a New Jersey high school, as well as graduation from a New Jersey high school, or having obtained a GED in New Jersey. Students must also file an affidavit promising to legalize their status as soon as they can.

“New Jersey Mayors know this: The more we invest in students, the better our towns become for all residents,” said Giancarlo Tello, an undocumented student and member of the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition.  “Students from across New Jersey appreciate this support and are ready to mobilize to ensure Governor Christie signs a bill that includes tuition equality and state assistance this year.”

An Assembly version of the legislation is stalled.