10 New Jersey City Mayors Sign on In Support of DREAM ACT

By Darryl Isherwood of N.J.com The mayors of 10 New Jersey cities today released a letter in support of the Dream Act, which would allow students who entered the country illegally to receive in-state tuition and scholarships at state schools. The letter specifically backs the Senate version of the bill and is signed by the mayors of the state's largest cities, including Newark, Jersey City, Camden, New Brunswick and Elizabeth. In addition to in-state tuition, the Senate bill would also allow for state aid. Both in-state tuition and aid would be limited to students who meet certain criteria, including promising they will seek legal status as soon as possible. "As mayors of municipalities big and small, we recognize that an education and the promise of a bright future is a key factor in building communities, lowering crime, and ensuring the general wellbeing of the residents we proudly and tirelessly represent.," the letter states. "Denied access to education feeds a cycle of poverty that proves deeply detrimental. Tuition equity and assistance to qualified, undocumented immigrant college students is necessary to give our state the diverse, highly skilled workforce we need to win the future." The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday. Last month, Gov. Chris Christie signaled he would sign the legislation, but did not give any details as to the parameters he'll accept. Democrats have already planned to push the legislation in the "lame duck" session of the legislature, which lasts until early January. "The DREAM Act is extremely important to get done. I want to get it on the governor's desk in December," Senate President Stephen Sweeney told the Star Ledger last week. An Assembly committee passed the measure in June, but it was pulled when representatives worried it might be used against them in the November elections. Christie's support for the legislation was viewed as a shift in philosophy, one the governor hoped would help him court the Hispanic vote. However, during the second of two gubernatorial debates, Christie denied it was a change, saying he supported the measure all along but wanted to make sure the colleges could pay for it. The mayors of Passaic, Morristown and Perth Amboy along with the mayors-elect of East Orange and Plainfield also signed the letter.