Support NJ Dreamers
“Get up, Get down – there’s a People’s Movement in this Town!”
Urge Assembly to pass the “Tuition Equality Act” (A4225)
Last week, I went to Trenton for the familiar rag: in this case, to the Assembly Budget & Appropriations Committee to testify against the “forest stewardship” bill.
I always get there early, and typically am the first person in the room.
But, something was very different this time.
The hearing room was jammed – and not with the same old tired and cynical faces of the corporate lobbyists who work the dark side in Trenton.
Nope. The room was packed with hopeful and pumped up young people – the youngest and most diverse crowd I’ve had the pleasure to be among at a Trenton legislative hearing. This is what democracy looks like! Quite refreshing! (and I didn’t have my camera!)
There were so many people attending, the Chairman asked them to leave temporarily due to fire/safety codes – and to come back when their bill was called, the “Tuition Equality Act” – Assembly Bill No. 4225.
I later listened to their amazing and powerfully inspiring testimony – of how they worked hard to overcome what seem to me to be almost – by design – insurmountable legal, economic, political, and cultural barriers to their fair shot at the American Dream. An oppressive scheme to lock in a disadvantaged underclass and deny opportunity and mobility.
As their testimony washed over me, I realized that I really had no idea – at a personal and emotional level – of how ugly, oppressive, unfair, and shameful the economic and political system in which they struggle for equality really is.
Those compelling stories of struggle and overcoming brutal injustices really made what I had gone to Trenton to discuss seem so small, almost trivial.
These were the NJ Dreamers, asking only for a fair shot and to be treated just like any other NJ resident and be charged in state tuition at NJ’s public colleges and universities.
As expected, they faced rampant and thinly veiled ignorance and anti-immigrant animus by Republicans on the Committee, backed by a grand total of 2 people who testified to oppose the bill.
Assemblyman Webber (R-Morris) took the lead in this attack, and he should really be ashamed of – and shamed for – his performance. Webber hit all the right wing anti-immigrant talking points, but did a good job of masking them with his Harvard Law School training and rhetorical skills. A real dangerous man to watch.
[For glaring examples of the hatred, ignorance, and racist anti-immigrant sentiments Webber is channeling, just see the reader comments on this Star Ledger story. Shame on the Democrats for capitulating to this garbage and not calling it what it is. Dems are unprincipled Cowards.]
I was so happy when a brave young woman called out one person whose testimony referred to them as “illegal aliens”.
I spoke with her after the hearing to compliment her on that pushback.
Yesterday, I again came across the NJ Dreamers.
Their bill was not posted for an Assembly vote – hopefully, it will be posted and pass tomorrow, which is effectively the last opportunity to vote on it before summer recess.
Support NJ’s Dreamers! Reach out to your legislators and demand that they pass the “Tuition Equality Act” – Assembly Bill No. 4225.