Continuing the great week of coverage for the DREAM Act, our New Jersey representative spoke out courageously to the Associated Press about the need for the DREAM Act.
An excerpt from the article:
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) â€” Piash has been living in New Jersey since legally emigrating from Bangladesh with his family as a child. He attended state public schools, graduated from high school at the top of his class and was accepted at Rutgers University.
But, now 18, he recently became classified an illegal immigrant after his family lost a fight for asylum. He dropped out of Rutgers after the out-of-state tuition rates he was charged as an undocumented student proved unaffordable.
“The taxpayers have already invested thousands of dollars in public education for kids like me,” Piash said. “Why are they denying us the chance to go to college and get jobs in which we become taxpaying contributors instead of part of the underground economy?”
Piash is one of many undocumented students lobbying for New Jersey to join the 10 states that allow illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria to pay in-state tuition rates for college. It’s a federal mandate that students, regardless of their immigration statuses, be provided with education from kindergarten through high school.
Of the six states that take in the most immigrants, New Jersey and Florida are the only two that don’t have some form of the in-state tuition legislation.
A recent report by Governor Corzine’s New Jersey’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy came down in favor of instate tuition for undocumented students.
Key findings from the report
- First, although unauthorized immigrants earn less than their authorized counterparts, they nonetheless contribute to local, state, and federal government through property taxes â€” on either owned or rented residences â€” as well as sales and consumption taxes.
- Second, based on the experiences in states already offering in-state tuition, these programs will not require heavy subsidization by the state. xlix Since legislation has passed in Kansas, for example, only 30 undocumented students registered for in-state tuition costs; in New Mexico, this number is 41; in Texas, undocumented students who registered for in-state tuition totaled less than 0.4 percent of all students attending higher education institutions in the state.
Moreover, some of the ten states which have enacted statutes to extend in-state tuition rates to undocumented individuals have reported the total number of beneficiaries, including those other than undocumented individuals (i.e. legal immigrants or U.S. citizens) who also qualify for instate tuition rates under the provisions of the program.
- A long-term analysis of revenue loss associated with in-state tuition benefits conducted by the University of California examined this issue and found that both cohorts of eligible students and lost revenue have leveled off in recent years after initial increases. In fact, expanding the total pool of eligible residents tends to increase the total school revenues because the undocumented student population is an untapped source of tuition revenue. This initiative could prove beneficial for state and county colleges, which generally have excess capacity for incoming students. Moreover, New Jersey has the highest rate of out-migration of high school graduates entering postsecondary institutions in the nation. In this sense, expanding the total pool of eligible residents can increase total school revenues and keep talented high school graduates in New Jersey at state institutions. By helping reverse the trend of out-migration of New Jersey high school graduates, this initiative can lessen an estimated $1.5 billion revenue loss to New Jersey residents who attend college in other states