Immigration reform advocates had accused Christie of waffling on a promise to support a state version of the so-called DREAM Act as he eyes a possible 2016 presidential run, and Christie had harsh words Thursday for those who had “accused me and others of playing politics with this issue.”
But now that he’s signed the bill into law — in private, the Associated Press reports — the political implications will become clearer. If he ultimately does run for president, his support for the measure will undoubtedly be added to a growing list of reasons why some conservatives view him warily.
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The bill was negotiated between the Republican governor and the Democratic state legislature. The final compromise allows undocumented immigrants who have graduated from a New Jersey high school which they attended for at least three years to pay the lower in-state tuition rates at public institutions, including community colleges, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Christie conditionally vetoed a version of the bill, which allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for state-funded financial aid, earlier on Friday. The legislature removed that clause and sent the bill back to the Christie, who signed it in private. A ceremonial signing is expected later.
“I’m disappointed with that, but I still view this as a victory for young people who are Americans in everything but on paper,” said state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who had hoped that the bill would include the financial aid clause.
“This is what compromise looks like,” Christie said at a news conference. “Sometimes it’s quiet. Sometimes it’s loud.”
There are similar laws in at least a dozen states.