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After New Jersey Governor Chris Christie openly opposed the democratically-controlled state legislature on their state’s version of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, they reached a compromise. Gov. Christie agreed to sign off on the bill offering in-state tuition rates for state colleges and universities to undocumented immigrants who attended New Jersey high schools for at least three years on the condition that the provision to grant financial aid to these same students be removed.
The DREAM Act was first proposed to the federal legislature in 2001 and has yet to be federally approved. However, many states have passed their own versions of the dream act to create access to residency through educational opportunities to “Young people who are Americans in everything but on paper,” as New Jersey State Senate president Stephen Sweeney puts it.
On the federal level, the DREAM Act has carried a lot of weight in the past two presidential elections and promises to be a hot topic again in 2016. Obama showed some support staying the deportation of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought here under the age of 16 through an executive order. In 2012, Mitt Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act, and John McCain’s support for the bill in 2008 became a liability for the GOP.
Immigration policy was also a hot topic in the New Jersey gubernatorial election when Christie won 51% of the Hispanic vote. However, due to his opposition to various provisions of the DREAM Act on the state level, he was accused of misleading the Hispanic population with his campaign promise to work for tuition equality.
“What I was trying to do all along was to get what I promised, which was tuition equality. I didn’t promise tuition assistance grants and financial aid,” explained Gov. Christie against this criticism. During his campaign, he didn’t go into details about what tuition equality meant to him.
Adapted from: Timm, Jane C. “Christie’s DREAM: ‘This is what compromise looks like,’” MSNBC. December 20, 2013. http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/chris-christie-dream-act