DREAM Act Supporters Disappointed With Compromise, But Say It’s a Start

December 19, 2013 | Education, Politics
Those in favor of the DREAM Act had hoped undocumented students could get tuition assistance.

By David Cruz

“I am overwhelmed with joy,” said Sen. Teresa Ruiz.

There were tears at a noontime press conference today as sponsors and supporters of the so-called NJ DREAM Act announced a compromise that would ultimately get Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.

“We have come to an agreement on a conditional veto that, to me, the most important part is, that the governor will sign today, making this legislation effective immediately,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The deal strips the Tuition Assistance Grant eligibility from the bill, which will ensure the governor’s signature but left some supporters rankled.

“What more does he want? We’re taxpaying residents. We are New Jerseyans. We call this our home. This was the best bill for New jersey and we’re only getting half of it,” said Anna Bonilla of Wind of the Spirit, an alliance of of immigrants and non-immigrants offering help and support to the immigrant community.

“This is what compromise looks like and I’ll be waiting for all the apology letters to come in from all the people who said, some in this room, who said that I was not serious about tuition equality and that this was an election year prank,” Christie said.

In the sometimes convoluted process of making law in New Jersey, the Senate bill — already approved with the tuition assistance provision intact — was sent on to the Assembly for approval before going back to Christie for his conditional veto, Republicans dissenting all the way.

“Work with us; we’ll work with you to make it right for everybody, but it doesn’t seem to go that way all the time. We have to wait for the governor to make a conditional veto and then react from that,” said Assemblyman C.J. Brown.