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Christie Holds Ceremonial Signing Of Immigrant Tuition Bill

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (credit: Getty Images)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (credit: Getty Images)

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UNION CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a ceremonial signing of a bill Tuesday that lowers tuition costs at public colleges for New Jersey students who lack lawful immigration status.

Christie signed the bill privately last month, the day after the Legislature agreed to drop financial aid eligibility for the students. New Jersey is one of the most recent states to pass the so-called “DREAM Act” legislation, which extends cheaper in-state tuition rates to qualifying students who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

Similar legislation has stalled at the federal level.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, it seemed like Christie was looking for the political middle on the issue, by making undocumented residents eligible for in-state tuition, but not financial aid. Critics say Christie is framing it as an economic issue.

The state is investing in kindergarten through eighth grade. “And the question is do we want to maximize our investment through giving them nothing more than an opportunity,” Christie said.

Christie also met with state Hispanic leaders Tuesday at an elementary school in heavily Hispanic Union City.

DREAM Act supporters applaud the move, but say the elimination of financial aid eligibility will still make college unattainable for many immigrant students.

Li Adorno, who was born in Mexico and graduated from Union City High School, feels the bill is bittersweet. He said he could use the financial aid.

“Right now, I’m struggling paying for community college,” he said. “So state aid would definitely help me.”

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