Local leaders of the American Jewish Committee joined a broad coalition in pressing for prompt passage of a federal law that would give many undocumented people a chance to become American citizens.
They gathered on Sept. 15 at Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at Union City Performing Arts High School, where Latino leaders saluted AJC “for being at the table and representing a Jewish voice for immigration reform,” said Amy Hollander, staff liaison to its Immigration Task Force.
“We met with many of our partners in the campaign for comprehensive immigration reform. It was a diverse group of religious leaders, business and labor leaders, Latino leaders, and the students we call ‘dreamers’ who want a path to citizenship,” said John Rosen, executive director of NJ AJC, a day after the meeting. “Our common topic of conversation was our interest in moving comprehensive immigration reform forward in Congress. We hope it will happen this year.”
But according to Hollander, the notion that the House and Senate will consider the legislation soon “was debatable. People back and forth were saying they thought it might get bumped to next year,” she told NJ Jewish News.
The comprehensive immigration bill, passed in the Senate and awaiting action in the House, incorporates the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act, which would provide undocumented young people with a pathway to citizenship.
One of the “dreamers” at the gathering, Giancarlo Tello, said he and fellow undocumented college students “are looking forward to the tuition bill, which would allow them to pay in-state tuition rates at New Jersey universities.”
Tello is a Peruvian-born undergraduate at Rutgers University’s Newark campus and campaign chair for New Jersey United Students’ Tuition Equity for Dreamers campaign.
“They live here and have grown up here, but because they are undocumented they are charged out-of-state rates,” said Hollander. “They can’t get access to in-state tuition and that makes going to college too expensive for them.”
— ROBERT WIENER