Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.
By Karol Ruiz, Wind of the Spirit
On Friday, Dec. 20 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed the NJ Dream Act, ending the discriminatory practice of charging immigrant residents exorbitant out of state tuition rates in NJ’s institutions of higher education.
For the past 10 years, the Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center fought to end discriminatory tuition practices against immigrant youth at the county and state level.
Wind of the Spirit and allies marched through Morristown, celebrating this historic civil rights victory, and will continue fighting for an affordable education for all New Jersey students. County College of Morris student Renata Mauriz led the march around the Morristown Green, chanting “Educate, Don’t Discriminate!”
Photos by Bill Lescohier for MorristownGreen.com
Over the past year, Wind of the Spirit has been a part of the NJ Tuition Equity DREAMers coalition that built community, faith, labor, and legislative support for tuition equity.
While the bill included access to state financial aid for qualifying students, regardless of immigrant status, the Governor denied tax-paying immigrants true equality by signing the NJ DREAM Act with a conditional veto, removing access to state aid.
Wind of the Spirit Civic Participation Coordinator Ilana Rossoff said: “We appreciate that the Governor signed a bill removing tuition discrimination, but were disappointed that he didn’t keep his promise to support tuition equality for everyone in New Jersey.
“True equality includes access to state aid. We are shocked that the Governor expects apologies from those accusing him of flip-flopping with his support. It is the Governor’s duty to sign the best legislation for New Jersey; no apology is owed.”
In Morris County, the Wind of The Spirit will begin by holding State Senator Anthony Bucco, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, and Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll [all R-25th Dist.] accountable for their lack of support for tuition equality. Assemblyman Carroll stated that he does not support access to state aid for higher education for anyone in New Jersey.
The Wind of the Spirit also supports current county college students in Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties and will ensure the new law is implemented to open the door for more students.
Cid Wilson, who serves on the State Board of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, addressed the crowd and stated that “qualifying students that have already paid out-of-county and out-of-state tuition for the Spring Semester should receive a refund from the colleges.”
On Jan. 11, 2013, The Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center will participate in Morristown High School’s Annual Bilingual Program and ensure that students are aware of the new law.