ATLANTIC CITY – On Thursday, the New Jersey State Assembly advanced a bill granting in–state tuition to students living in the U.S. illegally.
If passed, the bill would allow these students to pay cheaper in-state tuition rates to attend state colleges and universities.
Although Republican Governor Chris Christie won re-election with 50 percent of the Hispanic vote, he has said he would not sign a bill that includes this financial aid provision.
John Exadaktilos is an Atlantic City business owner whose father emigrated from Greece and was granted citizenship back in 1981. Exadaktilos said, “Whether it’s a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer or whatever the case may be – you should be given an equal opportunity.” Exadaktilos says this is why he stands behind New Jersey’s United States Senators advocating for national and local immigration reform. “America gave him an opportunity and with his drive to become successful, it passed onto myself and my sister. So now there are a million other people who have done the same thing – but again, it’s spread across the whole board you know,” said Exadaktilos
Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, say they are fasting for 24 hours in an effort to bring awareness to immigration reform.
In Washington D.C., the two Democrats joined members of a national hunger strike who are looking to draw attention to the immigration reform bill still waiting to be voted on in Congress.
Senator Cory Booker told NBC40, “It’s for the greater good of New Jersey and our nation – this issue is profoundly urgent. This is about growing New Jersey’s economy; it’s about getting people on the legal pathways to citizenship – having these people fuel business growth and job growth.”
In Atlantic City, immigration paralegals and lawyers help immigrants towards the same goals.
Evelyn Sabando, a government-certified Board of Immigration Appeals representative, has spent the last 23 years working with the nonprofit, Camden Center for Law and Social Justice. Sabando told NBC40, “We come every other week to provide services for the large population of immigrants in this area. We help them with their citizenship, we help them to become permanent residents, and we help them to obtain the legal status to protest for family members – all of the processes that are involved with immigration.”