Christie Called Out for Immigration ‘Flip Flop’

PHOTO: A woman takes the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the at district office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on January 28, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.

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New Jersey’s largest newspaper chastised Gov. Chris Christie this weekend for coming out against a bill that would offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.

The Star-Ledger accused the Republican governor of flip-flopping on the state’s Dream Act. Christie backed the idea of granting in-state tuition to undocumented students during his reelection campaign. But he came out against the Dream Act passed by the state Senate last month.

“The real reason for his flip-flop? Christie has his eyes on the presidency,” The Star-Ledger’s editorial board wrote this Sunday. “And if he has to roll over Latinos to get there, he’ll do it.”

The governor on Monday denied that he flip-flopped his position. He said that when he came out in support of in-state tuition in October, he did not endorse a specific bill.

“I said the legislature should move in the lame duck session towards tuition equality in New Jersey. Period,” Christie said at a press conference. “That's what I said. I didn't support any particular piece of legislation. And I still support tuition equality.”

Christie’s decision to oppose the state’s Dream Act has irked immigrant-rights groups, who accuse him of breaking a major campaign promise. The governor cruised to reelection in November with more than half of Latino voters supporting him.

Christie said he opposes the state Senate’s version because its benefits are “richer” than the federal Dream Act. But as the Star-Ledger pointed out, the two bills deal with separate issues related to immigration.

The federal Dream Act would grant a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants seeking a college education or military service. The New Jersey Dream Act allows students without proper immigration paperwork to pay in-state tuition and receive financial aid at state educational institutions.

“If Gov. Chris Christie thinks voters won’t notice if he promises one thing when he’s running for governor, then another when he’s running for president, he’s dreaming,” the Star-Ledger wrote.

This piece was updated at 6:18 p.m. ET Monday to include comments from Gov. Christie.

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Immigration Reform

Dream Act Poses Political Dilemma for Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he supports offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, but he won’t sign a bill passed by the state Senate that does just that.