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04/27/2018 | Building an Immigrant Justice Initiative, Combating Family Separation & Deportation

Thousands of Young Immigrants Gain Equal Access to Financial Aid

Make the Road New Jersey (MRNJ) won a significant victory this April when the New Jersey state legislature approved legislation that will give equal access to financial aid to undocumented and DACA-mented students. Thousands of young people who call New Jersey home will have a fair chance at going to college and pursuing their dreams.

At a moment when the Trump administration has launched unprecedented attacks on immigrant youth, young people in New Jersey are standing up and fighting back for their dignity and their future. MRNJ youth leaders have waged months of unprecedented action since the end of DACA in September, including a Thanksgiving-week hunger strike, civil disobedience, mobilizing 1,000 people to a statewide day of action on March 5 and dozens of rallies and sit-ins. This federal fight back has helped spark the effort to make New Jersey the ninth state to extend access to state financial aid to immigrant students – and the first in the Trump era. MRNJ also gives credit to and is grateful for its core coalition partners, including Wind of the Spirit, the ACLU of New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, the Latino Action Network and many more who have fought tirelessly to open the doors to education for Dreamers.

Of the financial aid bill, MRNJ youth leader Erika Martinez wrote, in a recent OpEd in the Bergen Record: “This legislation has given the Dreamers of New Jersey hope that if the federal government won’t give us an equal opportunity to persevere with our peers, our own lawmakers in this state will stand up and fight with us… We know we will get through these dark years and fight our hardest. In the meantime, I want to go to college and finish my education. When I graduate, I hope to live in a country that will finally welcome me.”

The bill now goes to Governor Murphy's desk to be signed into law, and Make the Road youth leaders are planning a comprehensive community outreach campaign to get the word out to Dreamers before the financial aid deadline closes in September. Please chip in to support MRNJ Youth Power organizing committee and to launch an outreach campaign to immigrant students by making a donation here.