TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says anyone who thought he wasn’t serious about easing college tuition costs for students living in the U.S. illegally owes him an apology.

Christie announced Thursday he would sign a bill extending eligibility for in-state tuition rates to residents brought into the country illegally as children if the Legislature drops a provision allowing the students to apply for state-funded financial aid.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney says the Senate will vote on a new bill Thursday.

The Assembly is expected to vote on the original bill Thursday. Christie plans to conditionally veto it, which would return it to the Legislature.

Christie said he was against the bill’s original draft because, by offering financial aid, it would make New Jersey a magnet state for immigrants and cost too much for taxpayers.

“I care about taking care of New Jersey kids, whether they’re citizens or undocumented,” Christie told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

When told the bill left at least one immigrant student still feeling like a second-class citizen, Christie fired back: “You can’t be a second-class citizen if you’re not a citizen.”

Christie said the law would go into effect right away so that affected students could apply under in-state rates for the spring semester.

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