Lawmakers in the state have introduced a bill that would allow students living in the U.S. illegally to apply for financial aid for their college education. United States Sen. Robert Menendez told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that New Jersey has already made an investment in the education that DREAMers — young undocumented students — have received.
“For the most part overwhelmingly the DREAMers I’ve met going up and down and the state have been here most of their entire lives. We’ve already made big investments in them in public education that they’ve attended,” said Menendez.
Menendez said in order for DREAMers to get the education they need for employment, assistance is critically important.
In the U.S. Senate, immigration reform has been debated and recently thousands of kids that wound up at the border are now crowding immigration courts. According to Menendez, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has not permitted a vote on bipartisan legislation on immigration reform that was passed in the Senate about a year ago.
“A year ago last Friday was when this passed. Now the House has said they’re not even going to take a vote on that or their own version of immigration reform,” said Menendez. “One of the elements of immigration reform was tougher border enforcement, more resources for that purpose, greater efforts against traffickers who are trafficking people to the border. None of that will be achieved now because the Republicans simply won’t have a vote and that’s part of the challenge.”
Another part of the challenge on immigration reform is a refugee crisis of young children coming out of Central America, according to Menendez.
The U.S. Department of Justice has set up a separate juvenile docket and has been hearing cases. According to Menendez, children have left their country of origin due to violence and when they arrive at the border, officials need to make sure they have no right to asylum. Menendez hopes that the administration will determine a process that gives the children due process rights and an opportunity for making an asylum claim.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Citizens for Immigration Control has called the process insanity and has said that the kids making their way into the country are taking jobs away from teenagers that already are in the country. Menendez said that to suggest that a child is coming into the country for a job is ludicrous.
Menendez also mentioned that the president’s administration is working on a $2 billion proposal to deal with the refugee crisis.
“So we’ll spend $2 billion to deal with the results but we won’t spend what is necessary to stop them from coming in the first place, which is creating citizen security,” Menendez said. “That’s one of the problems I have with the administration’s proposal.”