Christie Agrees to In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

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from The New York Times,

The New Jersey Legislature approved legislation on Thursday that would allow students without legal immigration status to pay in-state college tuition. Gov. Chris Christie planned to sign it on Friday, a spokesman said.

The bill’s passage was assured after Mr. Christie, a Republican, struck a deal with Democratic lawmakers, who agreed to a demand of his that they change the bill to remove a provision allowing undocumented immigrants access to state financial aid programs.

“This is what compromise looks like,” the governor said at a news conference in Trenton after the accord was revealed.

The legislation, commonly known as the Dream Act, had become a political wedge between the state’s large immigrant population and Mr. Christie, who has long tried to balance the sometimes-conflicting demands of being the chief executive of a liberal-leaning state while also gathering support for a possible Republican presidential candidacy.

After the deal was struck, the State Assembly passed a bill that would have allowed certain immigrants without legal status to qualify for in-state tuition as well as financial aid. The Senate approved an identical bill last month.

But in keeping with the terms of the compromise, Mr. Christie blocked the measure with a conditional veto that included a demand for the removal of the financial aid provision. Under a conditional veto, a bill is rejected unless the Legislature agrees to the changes or overrides the veto with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

This legislative choreography was the culmination of years of lobbying by immigrants and their advocates for so-called tuition equality in New Jersey.

With Mr. Christie’s signature, New Jersey will join at least 16 other states that make in-state tuition available to some immigrant students without legal status, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states — California, New Mexico and Texas — allow those immigrants access to state financial aid.

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