New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is hailing his state's version of the "Dream Act" granting undocumented immigrant students in-state tuition rights as an example of bipartisan cooperation that shows "government can actually work for you."
In a ceremonial signing Tuesday of the controversial measure that has already taken effect, the Republican described the bill as a duty to give high school immigrant students an "opportunity to maximize" investments already made by the state in their public education, according to CNN
He said it benefit not only their families, but New Jersey and the country.
"Even if you're cold-hearted about this, you can agree with the common sense of the economics: An investment made should be an investment maximized," he added, in brief reference to those opposed to giving children of illegal immigrants living in the state a break on tuition.
The measure did not come without major compromise. New Jersey's Democratic-controlled legislature agreed to drop a provision in the bill that would have also made undocumented students eligible for state financial aid, Fox News reported
. Christie had opposed the provision because he thought it might attract students living illegally in other states to New Jersey to enjoy lower tuition rates.
The law means thousands in savings for the undocumented students, according to Fox News. For example, in-state tuition at Rutgers University is $10,700 tuition annually, compared to $24,700 for out-of-state students.
Fifteen other states, including California and Texas, have similar laws that benefit large foreign-born populations.
Christie, considered a top potential candidate for president in 2016, had been opposed to the bill but changed his position while running for reelection this past year. He justified the change by saying the state's economic outlook had improved, but critics complained that he did it to appease Hispanic voters, according to CNN.
The governor went on to capture a majority of the Hispanic vote, helping to give him one of the largest margins of victory for a Republican in the state's history.
At the signing ceremony, Christie railed against a "world where people believe compromise is a dirty word."
"We all have principles that we want to stand up and fight for," he said. "But then I believe the obligation of anyone who is the governor of a state, or those members of the legislature elected by their constituents, they have an obligation to sit in a room around the table and advance the interests of the people who gave them these jobs in the first place."
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