Assembly Budget Committee approves Tuition Equality Act/A4225: NJ DREAMers, Students Celebrate First Step Towards In-State Tuition Victory in State Assembly

For Immediate Release

June 18, 2013

References:

Vera Parra, American Friends Service Committee, (917) 519 7657, vparra@afsc.org

Bea Sabino, Anakbayan New Jersey, (201) 779 6886, bmb.sabino@gmail.com

Assembly Budget Committee approves Tuition Equality Act/A4225: NJ DREAMers, Students Celebrate First Step Towards In-State Tuition Victory in State Assembly

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Trenton, NJ– The New Jersey state Assembly Budget committee approved assembly bill A4225, also known as the Tuition Equality Act, after New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition, New Jersey United Students, Anakbayan New Jersey and more than a hundred dreamers, community and labor supporters packed the hearing this past Monday in Trenton.

Assembly bill no. 4225 or the Tuition Equality Act, was introduced by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. The bill will allow undocumented students who have attended New Jersey high schools for a minimum of three years to qualify for in-state tuition rates in New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, on the condition that they have earned a diploma or GED from a NJ high school, and sign an affidavit promising to adjust their immigration status if given the opportunity to do so.

More than 20 people, including DREAMers and community leaders, testified in support of the Tuition Equality Act during the committee hearing. Speakers shared personal stories, and presented economic and moral platforms that garnered praises from assembly members.

“This bill is not only the morally correct thing to do, but the economically intelligent thing to do,” explains Giancarlo Tello, NJ DREAM Act campaign manager, during his testimony.  “Colorado’s fiscal note estimated the bill would increase revenue from tuition by about $2.0 million in FY 2013–14 and by about $3.0 million in FY 2014–15. Massachusetts similarly did a conservative estimate that said By the fourth year, new revenues from 756 to 876 undocumented students would total between $6.4 and $7.4 million.”

“In New Jersey we already invest over $200,000 in educating our DREAMers from elementary school through high school.  That is an investment that New Jersey, through its Out of State tuition policy, effectively kicks out to neighboring states such as New York, where tuition would be cheaper.  We then stand to lose all their tax dollars, expertise, and investments that would otherwise be put into New Jersey.” Tello continued.

Around 3:00pm, many at the assembly hearing erupted into cheers and applause when the committee members voted 8 out of 12 in favor of the bill. Following the Assembly budget committee vote, the coalition held a press conference to celebrate this important step and to call on the Senate to bring the bill up for a committee and floor vote.

“A4225 is only controversial to those who are not familiar with the undocumented student community’s moral and economic argument,” says Kamika Bennett, a student at Essex County College and member of the Essex County Dream Team.  “I ask the General Assembly to post and pass A4225.  I ask the Senate to post and pass the equivalent of A4225 now. We will work for as long as it takes to win tuition equality so that all students can access higher education in New Jersey,” Bennett concluded.

With overwhelming community support statewide, campaign organizers are confident the bill has the votes to pass in both the General Assembly as well as the Senate.  Student and youth leaders say they are also confident Governor Christie will choose to make this investment in New Jersey’s future when the bill reaches his desk.

Five months ago the youth and student coalition led by New Jersey United Students, the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, and Anakbayan NJ gathered at the steps of the State House to announce the launch of New Jersey DREAM Act Campaign. Since then, they have continuously gained a growing number of supporters. There are over 70 student, community, labor and faith-based organizations that have signed on letters of support. Five City Councils, and two Counties have passed resolutions urging NJ State legislators to pass in-state tuition for DREAMers. Most recently, the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, representing all public and private 2-and-4-year colleges and universities in the state, and the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges passed resolutions in support of In-State Tuition for undocumented youth.

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For more information about the New Jersey DREAM Act Campaign, please visit www.njtuitionequity.wordpress.com

Monday, June 17: NJ DREAM Act Assembly Hearing, Rally and Press Conference

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
June 13th, 2013
Media Contact: Vera E. Parra | vparra@afsc.org | 917-519-7656

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The NJ Tuition Equality Act (A.4225) comes before the NJ Assembly Budget Committee for a hearing/vote on Monday, June 17th

11:00am Press Conference: NJ DREAMers, student leaders, and community organizations call on legislators to pass the Tuition Equality Act now!

Trenton, NJ (Monday June 17th, 2013)- The New Jersey Assembly’s Budget Committee will have a hearing /vote on the NJ Tuition Equality Act (A. 4225). Students, leaders in higher education, community groups and faith-based organizations will gather at the State House in Trenton to hold a press conference before testifying in support of the bill at the hearing. 

New Jersey has been the long-term residence and home to an estimated 40,000 undocumented young adults that entered the United States before the age of sixteen. These young people have attended primary and secondary schools in New Jersey but have found themselves financially excluded from accessing higher education; they must pay as out-of-state residents at public universities in NJ. 

The Tuition Equality Act (A. 4225) would address this inequity by permitting every student, regardless of immigration status, who attended a high school in our state for three years, who graduated from a high school or received a GED in NJ, and who signs an affidavit promising to adjust their status (if they’re undocumented)- to qualify for resident/in-state rates at public universities. 

There are 15 states nationwide that have adopted state-level policies to expand educational access to undocumented young adults. The momentum is undeniable- several thousand of these young adults already have work authorization under a federal initiative (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) but cannot access any state or federal financial aid. Amidst high school graduations, while college-bound students are registering for classes and enjoying their summer at the Jersey Shore- this bill must pass now to allow thousands of young people the opportunity to afford some classes for the Fall 2013 semester at universities throughout our state.

Campaign organizers are confident leadership in the Assembly and Senate will pass the NJ Tuition Equality Act before the July 1st recess.Youth leaders and community supporters call on the Senate to schedule a vote before the summer recess, giving Governor Christie the opportunity to enact the NJ Tuition Equality Act.

The New Jersey Dream Act campaign was launched at the State House in Trenton on January 8th and has since been gaining the support of educators, city councils, congregations, and community organizations across the state, most recently including the New Jersey Presidents’ Council. The time to pass this bill is now. With the 5th highest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, New Jersey is far behind.

When: Monday June 17t [Press Conference at 11:00am]
Who: Immigrant Youth, Student Leaders, and Community at Large 
Where: New Jersey State House
125 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

Sponsoring Organizations: New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, New Jersey United Students, Anakbayan-NJ

Call Our NJ State Assembly People!

Call in NJ State Assembly People!

TODAY!

Call in your assembly people and ask them to support tuition equity for undocumented immigrants!

Please READ the mini flyer above!  It can serve as a guide with what your words will be.

The assembly is one of the two chambers of the NJ state legislature and they’re mulling over this very important issue.

Please do your part! It doesn’t take long!

NJ DREAMers, Students, and Community Call for In-State Tuition + State Aid for DREAMers at the State House

SIGN THE PETITION TODAY: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-new-jersey-senate-assembly-and-governor-we-urge-the-new-jersey-legislature-to-pass-nj-a1659-s2355-and-a3509-s2479-2

From Akin Olla (January 2013):

On Tuesday, January 8th, the youth of New Jersey and their close allies chose to ring in the New Year in their own special way.

Despite having attended New Jersey high schools and being children of New Jersey tax payers (the non-tax paying immigrant being an outdated myth, with some estimates believing individuals actually pay more than their documented neighbors), these students [undocumented youth] are forced to pay significantly higher tuition rates than their neighbors.

After hours of braving the cold, New Jersey United Students wrapped things up with reminders of the bills, A1659/S2355 and A3509 and a reminder that this was just the beginning of something great.

Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now! (Updated)

Hey, ya’ll!  We’ve got a wide array of student-leaders all over New Jersey who are excited to bring you the “Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now!”

Find the MEDIA ADVISORY BELOW with a list of all our approved events and actions!

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

May 22, 2013

Reference: Bea Sabino, Chairperson, Anakbayan NJ

anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com, (201) 779 6886

New Jersey Students and Community to Launch

“Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now!”

WHO: NJ Dream Act Coalition, NJ United Students, Anakbayan NJ, Mexican-American Progress Movement, Passaic DREAM Team, Essex County DREAM Team, Latino Action Network, Wind of the Spirit, PICO New Jersey, Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey- Immigration Committee, American Friends Service Committee and community at large.

WHAT: From May 25-June 1, 2013, student and community groups are holding a series of actions to demand Governor Christie and the NJ State Legislature to pass A3509/S2479, which would allow DREAM Act- eligible youth to qualify for in-state tuition and access state financial aid at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, by the June 30, 2013 state budget deadline.

Community groups are urging concerned citizens to take a stand for a person’s right to affordable and quality education, regardless of immigration status. Everyone is invited to participate in the New Jersey DREAM Act Week of Action. Activities range from social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter to public forums, vigils and rallies across New Jersey.

LIST OF EVENTS:

May 25, 2013

Wind of the Spirit and SEIU 32BJ BBQ + “Papers” Film Screening

6pm @ First Memorial Presbyterian Church, 51 W. Blackwell St, Dover, NJ

Contact: renata.mauriz@gmail.com

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May 26, 2013

Mexican American Progress Movement Immigration Reform Workshop + “Dream is Now” Film Screening

3pm @ Mexican American Community Center, 169 Lexington Avenue, Passaic, NJ 07055

Contact: mapm.nj@gmail.com

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May 29, 2013

“Day of Action”

Newark

Essex County Dream Team Coming Out of the Shadows

12-2pm @ Essex County College, Newark, NJ

Contact: vparra@afsc.org

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Jersey City

Rally + Press Conference for NJ Dream Act

5pm @ City Hall, 280 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ

Contact: yvesnibungco@gmail.com

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New Brunswick

Community Gathering for NJ DREAM Act

5-7pm @ Sacred Heart Parish, 56 Throop Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ

Contact: enlalucha22@gmail.com

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Passaic

Press Conference for NJ DREAM Act

5pm @ Passaic High School, 180 Paulison Ave, Passaic, NJ

Contact: bellostephanie01@gmail.com

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Union City

Choforitos United Rally for NJ DREAM Act

5pm @ Union City Plaza of the Arts (Bergenline Avenue, btw 30th and 31st streets), Union City, NJ

Contact: liborioadorno11@gmail.com

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If you’d like to register an event as part of the NJ Dream Act Week of Action, contact Bea Sabino at (201) 779 6886 or email bmb.sabino@gmail.com. For an updated list of events, please visit njtuitionequity.wordpress.com.

WHY: The NJTED Campaign launched with a rally at the State House in Trenton on January 8, just before Governor Christie’s State of the State Address. For the past 5 months, the NJ Dream Act campaign has been steadily gaining legislative and community support. Dozens of student groups, community organizations, labor unions and faith-based groups have signed on as endorsers of the campaign. The cities of Jersey City, Passaic, Elizabeth, Plainfield and New Brunswick all passed city resolutions urging the New Jersey State Legislature to enact the passage of A3509/S2479. Additionally, Essex County Freeholders

and Union County Freeholders have both signed similar resolutions.

The undocumented immigrant population in New Jersey makes up 6.2% of the total state population, making it the fourth-highest rate in the nation. In New Jersey, undocumented immigrants make up 8.6% of the state’s workforce and paid $446.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010. Despite their contribution to the local economy, undocumented immigrants are required to pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend college, and are ineligible for financial aid and scholarships.

The New Jersey Dream Act Week of Action aims to supplement ongoing legislative visits with a demonstration of the people power behind the call for the implementation of A3509/S2479 in time for the Fall 2013 semester. It is time for New Jersey to join the 14 other states that have enacted similar legislation for aspiring undocumented youth.

For more information about the NJ Dream Act Campaign and how to get involved in the Week of Action, please visit: http://njtuitionequity.wordpress.com/

The Kickoff Rally in Trenton

By: Akin Olla
Photo Credits: Richard D Hutchinson

On Tuesday, January 8th, the youth of New Jersey and their close allies chose to ring in the New Year in their own special way. The steps of the Trenton state house were draped in the various colors of New Jersey Universities and High Schools, each t-shirt representing the hopes and dreams of the hundreds of thousands of students who would one day walk their hallways, each looking forward to a future of decency and comfort. But despite the aspirations of many New Jersey students, the state that they call home does not treat them in such a welcoming manner.

TrentonShirts

Members of the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition along with New Jersey United Students and Anakbayan (a Filipino youth community organization aimed at educating and mobilizing in efforts to address issues that affect the global Filipino community) have launched a new campaign to set right what has long been wrong in our state. Students without proper documentation, who were often brought to this country unwillingly as children by parents who simply sought a better life for their loved ones, are forced to pay out of state tuition in New Jersey’s public universities. Despite having attended New Jersey high schools and being children of New Jersey tax payers (the non-tax paying immigrant being an outdated myth, with some estimates believing individuals actually pay more than their documented neighbors), these students are forced to pay significantly higher tuition rates than their neighbors.

Yves

The current coalition of youth groups were joined by other students, unions, churches, and community groups all dedicated toward pushing back against the ever increasing costs of higher education in New Jersey (we currently rank #3 in states with the most expensive public four year universities). The kickoff rally itself began around 11:00 pm with an introduction by Marisol Conde-Hernandez, a Rutgers New Brunswick Alumni and a founder of NJDAC. The event was filled with personal stories of the anguish that comes with the inability to attend the Universities of your dreams. Supporters including local clergy and union members impassioned the rally with calls of solidarity with all students and youth of New Jersey. After hours of braving the cold, New Jersey United Students wrapped things up with reminders of the bills, A1659/S2355 and A3509 and a reminder that this was just the beginning of something great.

And who knew how true those words would be; within the next 24 hours, a new bill, S247, was written by Democratic Senator Teresa Ruiz, which lends support to preexisting bills.

Students

Students, Teachers, and Community Leaders braving the cold for a fairer future.

Equality through Education

We are New Jersey United Students (NJUS), and part of our advocacy for increased access to higher education is support of tuition equity in New Jersey, which would allow for thousands of New Jersey youth to receive the education they’ve earned through hard work and responsibility.

The act would allow undocumented students in New Jersey to pay in state tuition at institutes of higher education instead of being forced to pay out of state costs that are reserved for students who are not already part of the New Jersey community. By attending high school in New Jersey and graduating in the state, we believe that these students have already displayed what it takes to be considered a part of New Jersey and deserve the same opportunity that other members of our community get.