Rutgers DREAMers want support to level playing field for undocumented students

Tomorrow on the New Brunswick campus at Rutgers University, students from Rutgers University Tuition Equity Coalition plan to tell university president Robert Barchi what their lives as students on his campus are like. And they will ask him to sign a letter explicitly stating that he supports legislation that would grant in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants.

Rutgers DREAMers: Town Hall Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 21 – 7:15-8pm

Student Activities Center, Raritan Lounge (a public space)

613 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Members of the Coalition include: United Students Against Sweatshops, Rutgers Student Union, Latino Student Council. Hosted by: Rutgers Student Assembly

Rutgers student newspaper The Daily Targum profiled an undergraduate at the Newark campus. Giancarlo Tello didn’t find out till he was in high school that he was undocumented. His family overstayed a tourist visa when he was 6, to give him a better education than they figured was available in Peru. He’s been an New Jerseyan for 17 years. Knows no other place. And wants to succeed. He enrolled in community college first, charged at international rates, and it took him three years to pay for that, working as a tennis coach and both teaching and fixing computers.

At Rutgers, he can only afford one 3-credit class per semester – about $2,700, far more expensive than students who can prove residency. The struggle has both left him troubled about his future – and reshaped that future. He’s shifted focus from applied sciences to politics, to better equip himself to help other members of his community.  

The legislation students want Barchi’s support for is A1659/S2355. Assembly version is sponsored by members Johnson, Vainieri Huttle, Quijano and Green. On the Senate side, it’s Ruiz, Cunningham, Lesniak and Stack. It would allow students who attended a NJ high school for at least three years, and graduated or got an equivalent degree, to qualify for resident tuition rates at Rutgers and other NJ public institutions of higher education. They will also seek support on A3509 (same sponsors, plus Asm Cryan)/S2479 (same sponsors plus Sen. Pou), which would allow students in the federal Deferred Action program to be eligible for both resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities, as well as state financial aid.

A demographic study of who and where the DREAMers are by the Immigration Policy Center cites more than a million in the U.S., 39,650 in NJ, with 28,460 of those between the ages of 15-30.  

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