FEBRUARY 22, 2011
A year after the New Jersey legislature rejected a bill to give illegal immigrants discounted tuition at public colleges and universities one school has taken matters into its own hands by offering the costly perk anyways.The move by a taxpayer-funded institution comes amid a dire financial crisis that has negatively impacted public education at every level in the Garden State. Most ofNew Jersey’s public colleges already have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when admitting illegal immigrants, but they require those students to pay the much higher out-of-state tuition rates.Trustees at the County College of Morris, a two-year school with an enrollment of about 9,000, overwhelmingly voted to change that. Beginning this summer, illegal immigrants who attend classes at the Randolph campus will pay discounted tuition previously reserved for New Jersey’s legal residents. The college’s president, Edward Yaw, says the change was necessary to help an “increasing number of students”who could not be educated at his school.The reason for that is twofold. For security reasons, the County College of Morris enacted a policy banning illegal immigrants all together—even if they paid full tuition—after the 2001 terrorist attacks. That means that poor illegal aliens got stuck paying “significantly more” to attend another college, Yaw said. Now that the welcome mat has been rolled out they can attend his college on the cheap if they graduate from a U.S. high school. First they must prove that they entered the country before the age of 16, though it’s not entirely clear how Yaw plans to enforce this.New Jersey has long protected illegal immigrants and experimented with ways to help them. Former Governor Jon Corzine even created a special advisory panel a few years ago to help the state’s estimated 400,000 illegal aliens blend into society by expanding public services such as education, health care and employment training and offering them “driver privilege cards.”As for discounted tuition, ten states currently extend the benefit to illegal immigrants. Among them are California, Texas, Utah, Kansas, Washington and New York. Last fall the Obama Administration ordered authorities to stop deporting illegal immigrants who are students after thousands of them participated in a string of disruptive sit-ins, rallies and marches to demand legal status simply because they were brought to the U.S. as children by no fault of their own.
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