By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
What’s the buzz? At the Latino Institute’s education conference everybody was talking about last night’s gubernatorial debate. Gov. Chris Christie apparently embraced tuition equality, a bill that would let undocumented students pay in-state tuition at New Jersey colleges and universities instead of higher out-of-state rates.
“What I always have said is that when economic times got better that would be one of things I would consider,” Christie said during the debate.
Christie insisted his position hasn’t changed on this issue, but his democratic challenger Barbara Buono warned, “Be careful. This governor has a history of saying one thing and doing another. Witness that He supported a ban on .50 caliber rifles in April, then he turned around when we sent it to him and he vetoed it.”
Today, Buono’s running mate, Milly Silva, questioned the timing of Christie’s unexpected shift on tuition equality.
“Surprisingly now, three weeks before an election, he has taken the position that the economy is better, which it isn’t, and that he supports tuition equality, which he hadn’t, so certainly on the issue we would hope that the governor finally is prepared to stand with the people of New Jersey, who believe that dreamers who came here to this country through no fault of their own have the opportunity to affordable college education” Silva said.
“I think he’s finally getting the message, he’s getting the message because he finally realizes that Latinos do vote and if he has any plans to run for national office, he’d better change his tune right now,” said William Colon, president and CEO of the Latino Institute.
Whether you call it flip flopping or not, it’s unlikely that Gov. Christie’s apparent change of heart on this issue won’t hurt him politically. But what it does is bring hope to thousands of undocumented students and their families in New Jersey.
Students like Miriam Zamudio. “I have lived here more than half of my life. I grew up here. And it’s sad I have to pay triple what a regular student has to pay to go to school,” she said.
Opponents argue that people who are in this country illegally broke the rules and shouldn’t benefit from paying the same rates as legal residents. However, support has been growing for these so-called dreamers.
“I didn’t come here knowing I was going to be illegal. I came here because my parents had a dream,” Zamudio said.
And she believes that dream of getting an affordable education could become a reality if there’s the political will to support it.