Christie denies he reversed position on NJ DREAM Act
December 2nd, 2013
04:37 PM ET
9 years ago

Christie denies he reversed position on NJ DREAM Act

(CNN) – Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey hit back at claims Monday that he flip-flopped on his position involving a big immigration issue in the Garden State.

After the New Jersey Star-Ledger ripped Christie for going back on his support for a bill that would grant in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, Christie said he did no such thing.

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"I said the legislature should move toward tuition equality," he said Monday in a press conference. "I didn't support any particular piece of legislation. And I still support tuition equality."

Immigration activists argue Christie pledged his support for the legislation during an October gala, less than a month before he won re-election.

"I believe every child should be able to give the opportunity to reach their God-given potential," he said at the event. "We need to make sure that we continue to work on issues that will make those children believe they have a bigger and brighter future. 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."

Last week in a radio interview, however, Christie said he would not support a bill that was passed November 18 by the Democratic-controlled state Senate that would allow undocumented students in New Jersey to qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid at state schools.

Under the legislation, known as the New Jersey DREAM Act, undocumented students would have to attend a New Jersey high school for at least three years and file documents saying they would seek legal status. Their acceptance to colleges and universities–as well as financial aid–do not count as legalization.

The Star-Ledger, which reluctantly endorsed Christie in his re-election bid, published a scathing editorial Sunday, arguing Christie was simply trying to shore up the Latino vote during his gubernatorial bid but is now switching tracks as he potentially prepares for a presidential campaign.

"The real reason for his flip-flop? Christie has his eyes on the presidency. And if he has to roll over Latinos to get there, he'll do it," the editorial stated.

According to CNN exit polls, Christie won 51% of the Latino vote.

Christie said Monday that perhaps he "was imprecise" in his previous language about tuition equality but argued he opposes the legislation for multiple reasons. First, the bill allows out-of-state residents to become eligible for in-state tuition if they go to a private high school in New Jersey.

"Getting undocumented, out-of-state students benefits that out-of-state citizens aren't eligible for, I'm not in favor of it," he said.

He also said the New Jersey DREAM Act doesn't put a time limit on undocumented students who would qualify for in-state tuition. For example, he pointed to a federal law that prevents for two years the deportation of any student seeking higher education as long as that student was in the U.S. before 2012.

"We shouldn't make our program an open-ended commitment. We should be in line with what the President has done, which was to cap it in 2012," he said.

He argued that the legislation as written will make New Jersey a magnet for undocumented immigrants who want "to come here to get these additional benefits."

"I said...that I believe in tuition equality. This is beyond tuition equality. This is tuition equality plus plus plus," he argued. "I'm not putting the taxpayers of this state at any greater burden on this. Send me tuition equality, I'm willing now to do that. Send me tuition equality plus, or plus plus, or plus plus plus–and I'm not signing it. It's that simple."

Filed under: Chris Christie • Immigration
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Ah, and the pandering to wackadoodles begins anew.

    December 2, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Is it a flip flop or just slowly, laboriously rolling over? Have no fear, the Teatrolls will get their spatula under him one way or another.

    December 2, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Flip Flop, the whale is taking a drop.

    December 2, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    It is a bit early for the Etch A Sketch campaign to officially begin.
    But hey, better sooner then later ... yes, Gov. Christie?

    December 2, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. California

    Enforce the laws on the books, period.

    December 2, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. ST

    Christie won't reach anywhere. What he said during his recently acceptance speech of his win: " look at NJ/look at me what I did" is going to haunt him so badly.

    December 2, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. liberals_rule

    We need 100% of illegal immigrants to be kept in the US so we can have a thriving drug trade. Without them, it's impossible. Also, I need someone to clean my house for only fifty bucks. I called a maid service and they wanted a whole lot of money I'm not willing to pay.

    December 2, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    While he may never achieve the level of Mittens flip flopping, he is starting a lot earlier in his campaign to get the bagger support, by doing 180 turns.

    December 2, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Guiliani, Mittens, and Krispy. All willing to sell their beliefs to be loved by the party of hate.

    December 2, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. bill

    obama would say he evolved.

    December 2, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. jinx9to88

    Got to get those wacko birds tea party votes for the primary.

    December 2, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Vence

    Mitt Romney to the square!

    December 2, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    Immigration reform is needed.

    December 2, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Poor Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey hasn't even talked about his past as a lobbyist for ernie" Madoff yet.

    December 2, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. ChrisM

    Ah yes, here goes Christie, reversing his positions just like Mitt the twit so the rwnjs will nominate him.

    December 2, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Alan

    Won't be the last we will see from him now as he tries to get the "crazy right" vote over the next couple years AND THEN look out as he like Romney tries to flop back to the center....this will have the appearance of a fish thrown on the bank trying desperately to get back to the water. Sad.

    December 2, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Gov Christie is just another Republican moderate with no back bone who will flip flop on issues like immigration to pander to Tea Partiers and conservative purists.

    December 2, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. S. B. Stein

    Christie won't ever admit he made a mistake or changed his views because that would be a sign of weakness.

    December 2, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |