The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuition Equity for Dreamer Children - Resolution Passed by Plainfield City Council

A Plainfield City Council resolution in support of tuition equity for "DREAMer" children was passed unanimously by the governing body this past April. As a professor at Essex County College, I have had many of these DREAMers in my classes over the years. One, Kamika Bennett, who just received permanent residency status, has just been awarded a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which provides $30,000 per year for
Kamika Bennett, Diego Cruz-Burbano and Karolina Caravelli-Campos
three years of study at her transfer institution--she is awaiting final word from Brown University. Two other ECC students, Diego Cruz-Burbano and Karolina Caravelli-Campos (in Star-Ledger photo), also received the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship--only 73 are awarded throughout the nation each year, so we are extremely proud of these students' accomplishments (last year, 3 ECC students also received the award). Click on this link for this past Sunday's Star-Ledger story on these particular students. 3 Students from Essex County College Win Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships


It is extremely important that other municipalities also pass resolutions in support of young scholars such as these. Below is the text of our council resolution:



RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE PASSAGE OF A1659/S2355 AND A3509/S2479, ESTABLISHING TUITION EQUITY FOR DREAMER CHILDREN

Introduced by Councilwoman Rebecca Williams:

WHEREAS, the City of Plainfield, sometimes known as the “Queen City,” is home to immigrants from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean Islands; and

WHEREAS, immigrants make up 44% of City of Plainfield, amounting to approximately 20% of New Jersey’s foreign born population; and

WHEREAS, “DREAMers” is the term often used for undocumented immigrant children who came to the United States at a young age and did not take part in their parents’ decision to bring them to the Unites States; and

WHEREAS, many DREAMers have lived here almost their entire lives; and

WHEREAS, in New Jersey, DREAMers, like all other students, are provided a public education through 12th grade pursuant to Federal law; and

WHEREAS, each year New Jersey high schools graduate approximately 2,300 DREAMers, many of whom who were raised and educated in this country with no legal status, hold American values, know only the United States as their home, and have the same dreams, goals and aspirations as other American children; and

WHEREAS, DREAMers’ immigration status makes them ineligible for federal or state financial aid and requires them to pay high tuition – as much as double in-state rates – if they seek to attend public colleges and universities despite their long-term residency within our city, state and country; and

WHEREAS, many exemplary children are thereby prevented from pursuing a postsecondary education; and

WHEREAS, undocumented immigrants already make vital contributions to the economic stability and cultural richness of the City of Plainfield, the State of New Jersey, and the United States; and

WHEREAS, for example, in 2010 alone, undocumented immigrants make up 8.6% of the state’s workforce and paid $446.1 million in state and local taxes through property, sales, payroll, and income-taxes; and

WHEREAS, furthermore, the state would lose $24.2 billion in economic activity if all undocumented immigrants in New Jersey were deported, and;

WHEREAS, despite these contributions, undocumented immigrants such as DREAMers are often denied the opportunity to contribute even more to American Society when they do not have access to an affordable higher education; and

WHEREAS, the New Jersey state legislature is considering two bills that would remedy this situation and provide tuition equity to DREAMers; and

WHEREAS, Assembly Bill No. 1659 and its companion bill, Senate Bill No. 2355, (“A1659/S2355” collectively) would allow all students who attended a high school in New Jersey for at least three years, and graduated or received an equivalent degree, to qualify for in-state rates at New Jersey’s public institutions of higher education, regardless of immigration status; and

WHEREAS, Assembly Bill No. 3509 and its companion bill, Senate Bill No. 2479, (“A3509/S2479” collectively) would allow all students who attended a high school in New Jersey for at least three years, and graduated or received an equivalent degree, to apply for in-state rates at New Jersey’s public institutions of higher education in addition to state financial aid, regardless of immigration status; and

 
WHEREAS, both bills would require qualifying DREAMers to file affidavits that they intend to normalize their immigration status; and 


WHEREAS, by empowering DREAMers to attend New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, the purchasing power of these students would rise; they would pay more in taxes; and the net effect would be overall growth for the City of Plainfield and the State of New Jersey’s economy; and

WHEREAS, this in turn would create more openings for other American workers in higher skilled occupations; now

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Municipal Council of the City of Plainfield fully supports tuition equity, and urges the New Jersey Legislature and the Governor to swiftly enact A1659/S2355 or A3509/S2479; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Municipal Council of the City of Plainfield does hereby direct the City of Plainfield to send copies of this resolution to the Governor and all members of the New Jersey Legislature.



Adopted by the Municipal Council                                                                  April 8, 2013



                                                                                    _________________________________
                                                                                    Abubakar Jalloh, RMC
                                                                                    Municipal Clerk
 

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