Letter: Misguided Opposition to Financial Aid for DREAMers

This appeared as a letter to the editor in the July 27, 2016 edition of the Asbury Park Press.

The Asbury Park Pressrecent editorial against allowing striving students – who happen to be undocumented – access to state financial aid to have a shot at a college degree is misguided and misleading, as it portrays undocumented New Jerseyans as merely “takers” who don’t contribute to the state we all call home.

Parents in undocumented families, like the rest of us, work hard and pay taxes all in order to give their kids a better shot at success than they themselves had. By seeking access to state financial aid for college, these families are not asking to cut to the front of the line. They are simply asking to be giving a chance to stand in line with the rest of their classmates for a chance to make New Jersey better.

For working class undocumented high school graduates, no financial aid equals no college and fewer economic opportunities, which is bad for all of us. These young folks aren’t going anywhere. Cutting the rungs off the ladder of opportunity helps build a permanent underclass of uneducated immigrants who struggle to escape poverty, which is a drag on the state.

Not allowing access to aid also wastes considerable taxpayer investment – of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars – in these students before college.

Surely, the 500 or so striving students fighting long odds and benefitting from the tuition equity law could benefit from the state tuition aid that 77,000 of their low-income peers received last year. And we know that New Jersey could make this dream a reality without breaking the bank.