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Gov. Christie Gives Remarks Supporting In-State Tuition for New Jersey Students

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October 16, 2013; 1:27 PM EDIT: At the debate last night, Christie embraced tuition equality for immigrants:

“What I always have said is that when economic times got better, that that would be one of the things that I would consider,” Christie said during last night’s debate at Montclair State University. “It’s time now — given that economic times are getting better and the state budget revenues are going up.”

The governor suggested lawmakers “talk about how we could responsibly fund tuition equality” during the Legislature’s lame duck session after next month’s general election.

4:58 PM EDIT: Gov. Christie is scheduled to debate Democrat Barbara Buono again tonight (for the second and final time).  We’re hoping the debate moderators raise the issue of immigration, including Christie’s real position on in-state rates.

This weekend, Governor Chris Christie, who is running for reelection, appeared to reverse a previously held position when he said that New Jersey should allow undocumented students to attend public colleges at the same tuition rates as other students. He made these remarks at an event for the Latino Leadership Alliance.

As Fox New Latino reported his comments:

I believe every child should be given the opportunity to reach their God-given potential…that’s a moral requirement. We need to get to work in the state legislature, on things like making sure that there’s tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey…

It is disgraceful what’s going on in Washington.  Both parties deserve blame for the show they put on every day, hoping we’re not watching…They need to get back to work. One of things they need to get back to work on is fixing this immigration system in this country — it’s a disgrace.

His remarks are an apparent change from 2011, when Christie rebuffed Texas Governor Rick Perry’s argument during the Republican primaries that those who opposed in-state tuition for immigrants were “heartless.”  At the time, Christie said that “I want every child who comes to New Jersey to be educated, but I don’t believe that for those people who came here illegally, we should be subsidizing with taxpayer money, through in-state tuition their education.”

Actually, the Chronicle of Higher Education has written that in-state tuition laws for immigrants can be a benefit for both states and immigrants.  In their 2011 report, they found that states allowing immigrants to pay in-state tuition saw a 31% jump in the college-going rate and a 14% decline in high school dropouts among undocumented Latino students.  Currently, even DACA recipients living in and attending public colleges in New Jersey must pay out-of-state tuition rates.

Christie’s comments, however, are awaiting public confirmation because as FOX News Latino noted, “Efforts to get a comment from Christie’s campaign staff and governor’s office on Monday were unsuccessful.” This afternoon, the Star-Ledger reported that “representatives of Christie’s campaign have declined to comment on whether the statement indicates the governor has changed his position on tuition equality.” Here’s the thing: It’s not going to help Christie if it looks like he’s trying to hide his support — or saying one thing to Latino groups that he won’t say publicly.

Christie is widely expected to run for president in 2016, and, as with any Republican who wants to win, must find a way to earn the support of Latino voters.  He has made supportive comments about immigration reform in the past, but his state–where the legislature is controlled by Democrats–has yet to take action on bills that could substantially affect the lives of immigrants, for example passing in-state tuition, rejecting Secure Communities, or passing an immigrant driver’s license bill.  California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation enacting the latter points just this month.

Watch Governor Christie’s remarks below: