Filipino- American Youth Celebrate Historic Community Victory for New Jersey DREAMers

Filipino- American Youth Celebrate Historic Community Victory for New Jersey DREAMers
Anakbayan Calls to Unite and Strengthen the Movement for Immigrant Rights in the U.S.

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For Immediate Release
Press Statement
December 31, 2013
Bea Sabino, Chairperson, Anakbayan NJ, (201) 779 6886
Nina Macapinlac, Member, Anakbayan NJ, (973) 641 9735
Anakbayan New Jersey commends the passage of the In-State Tuition Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie on Friday, December 20. Through the sustained efforts of a youth-led movement, New Jersey now joins 18 other states with similar policies, marking a major milestone for grassroots community organizing in the state.
Effective immediately, undocumented youth who have attended at least 3 years of high school in New Jersey now qualify for in-state tuition rates at institutions of public higher education. Commonly referred to as the NJ DREAM Act, the bill had initially opened tuition assistance programs like Tuition Aid Grants (TAG) to undocumented students.
However, the Governor struck provisions for state financial aid following a compromise reached with Democratic legislators. Christie expressed misplaced concerns that such provisions would turn NJ into a “magnet state,” and that access to these programs was an overreach and harmful to the state economy.
These arguments are untrue because financial aid to undocumented immigrant students would make up less than 1% of state aid, with less than 1000 students per year estimated to qualify after completing the FAFSA application and meeting income standards. Moreover, states with similar laws like New Mexico, California and Texas already offer access to state aid and have not experienced negative economic consequences.
Up From the Grassroots
Though only a partial version of the NJ DREAM Act, the successful campaign for In-State Tuition is a historic victory for Filipino youth and other immigrant communities. It is the culmination of more than a decade of community organizing and lobbying. It is a glimpse of what the future can hold for strong, united and organized communities.
Last year, the NJ DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC), a product of the initial push for tuition equality from 2009, partnered up with New Jersey United Students (NJUS), Anakbayan NJ (AB-NJ) and Wind of the Spirit (WOTS) to build a coalition to revive the campaign following President Obama’s announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.
By building a grassroots movement of youth, community, faith-based and labor groups, reinforced with engaging with state legislators through lobbying visits, the NJ Tuition Equity for DREAMers (NJTED) campaign demonstrated the power of collective action in challenging unjust and discriminatory policies in the face of legislative bureaucracy and partisan bickering.
Filipino Americans- Cultivating a Culture of Solidarity
Filipinos in NJ had much at stake in this issue. An estimated one in every six Filipinos in the United States is undocumented. With a growing population of 125,000 Filipinos, New Jersey has the fifth largest population of Filipinos in the nation.
Filipino-Americans played a significant role in this year’s fight for the NJ DREAM Act, especially in Jersey City, which is home to the second highest concentration of Filipinos in the state. On February 27, Anakbayan NJ worked closely with then-Councilman-at-Large [now, Council President] Rolando Lavarro Jr. and community allies to bring forth what had been the first municipal resolution endorsing the call for tuition equality in NJ.
Pursuing the legacy of solidarity work from exemplary Filipino-American activists such as Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, Fil-Am youth leaders helped coordinate and organize local and statewide actions that featured the re-emerging immigrant rights movement in NJ. The “NJ DREAM Act Week of Action” in May and “Share the DREAM Rally” in November brought together groups and individuals from diverse backgrounds, united in the mission to uplift immigrant communities from the injustices caused by racism and discrimination.
The In-State Tuition law is a stepping stone towards further progress. Anakbayan NJ and the rest of NJTED coalition remain dedicated to genuine tuition equality and will continue fighting for a complete NJ DREAM Act, which includes the crucial piece of providing access to state financial aid to already distressed undocumented youth and their families.
The next immediate step is ensuring implementation of the law. In time for the spring semester, public colleges and universities must be guided, and held accountable, in the transitional process of adjusting tuition policies for undocumented students.
Resolution: Organize and Fight to End Modern-Day Segregation
AB-NJ also reaffirms its commitment to the broader cause for genuine comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, which must include an end to deportations, family separation, and institutionalized discrimination against all immigrants, while also addressing the root causes of migration.
This New Year, Anakbayan NJ calls on Filipino youth, especially DREAMers, to resolve to be part of this generation’s continuation of the civil rights movement. History has shown that those who dare to come out of the shadows are the ones who stand a chance at overcoming oppression.
Our identity as Fil-Ams takes root in five centuries worth of immigration history and community activism. Become a member or supporter of Anakbayan today! Email Yves Nibungco, Secretary General of Anakbayan NJ, at with “AB NJ Membership” on the subject line.
Higher Education For All!
No Human Being is Illegal!
Fight for Genuine Comprehensive Immigration Reform!!
Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
Makibaka! Huwag Matakot! (Fight! Do not fear!) ###

Assembly Budget Committee approves Tuition Equality Act/A4225: NJ DREAMers, Students Celebrate First Step Towards In-State Tuition Victory in State Assembly

For Immediate Release

June 18, 2013


Vera Parra, American Friends Service Committee, (917) 519 7657,

Bea Sabino, Anakbayan New Jersey, (201) 779 6886,

Assembly Budget Committee approves Tuition Equality Act/A4225: NJ DREAMers, Students Celebrate First Step Towards In-State Tuition Victory in State Assembly


Trenton, NJ– The New Jersey state Assembly Budget committee approved assembly bill A4225, also known as the Tuition Equality Act, after New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition, New Jersey United Students, Anakbayan New Jersey and more than a hundred dreamers, community and labor supporters packed the hearing this past Monday in Trenton.

Assembly bill no. 4225 or the Tuition Equality Act, was introduced by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. The bill will allow undocumented students who have attended New Jersey high schools for a minimum of three years to qualify for in-state tuition rates in New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, on the condition that they have earned a diploma or GED from a NJ high school, and sign an affidavit promising to adjust their immigration status if given the opportunity to do so.

More than 20 people, including DREAMers and community leaders, testified in support of the Tuition Equality Act during the committee hearing. Speakers shared personal stories, and presented economic and moral platforms that garnered praises from assembly members.

“This bill is not only the morally correct thing to do, but the economically intelligent thing to do,” explains Giancarlo Tello, NJ DREAM Act campaign manager, during his testimony.  “Colorado’s fiscal note estimated the bill would increase revenue from tuition by about $2.0 million in FY 2013–14 and by about $3.0 million in FY 2014–15. Massachusetts similarly did a conservative estimate that said By the fourth year, new revenues from 756 to 876 undocumented students would total between $6.4 and $7.4 million.”

“In New Jersey we already invest over $200,000 in educating our DREAMers from elementary school through high school.  That is an investment that New Jersey, through its Out of State tuition policy, effectively kicks out to neighboring states such as New York, where tuition would be cheaper.  We then stand to lose all their tax dollars, expertise, and investments that would otherwise be put into New Jersey.” Tello continued.

Around 3:00pm, many at the assembly hearing erupted into cheers and applause when the committee members voted 8 out of 12 in favor of the bill. Following the Assembly budget committee vote, the coalition held a press conference to celebrate this important step and to call on the Senate to bring the bill up for a committee and floor vote.

“A4225 is only controversial to those who are not familiar with the undocumented student community’s moral and economic argument,” says Kamika Bennett, a student at Essex County College and member of the Essex County Dream Team.  “I ask the General Assembly to post and pass A4225.  I ask the Senate to post and pass the equivalent of A4225 now. We will work for as long as it takes to win tuition equality so that all students can access higher education in New Jersey,” Bennett concluded.

With overwhelming community support statewide, campaign organizers are confident the bill has the votes to pass in both the General Assembly as well as the Senate.  Student and youth leaders say they are also confident Governor Christie will choose to make this investment in New Jersey’s future when the bill reaches his desk.

Five months ago the youth and student coalition led by New Jersey United Students, the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, and Anakbayan NJ gathered at the steps of the State House to announce the launch of New Jersey DREAM Act Campaign. Since then, they have continuously gained a growing number of supporters. There are over 70 student, community, labor and faith-based organizations that have signed on letters of support. Five City Councils, and two Counties have passed resolutions urging NJ State legislators to pass in-state tuition for DREAMers. Most recently, the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, representing all public and private 2-and-4-year colleges and universities in the state, and the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges passed resolutions in support of In-State Tuition for undocumented youth.


For more information about the New Jersey DREAM Act Campaign, please visit

New Jersey Students and Community to Launch “Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now!”

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

May 22, 2013

Reference: Bea Sabino, Chairperson, Anakbayan NJ

     , (201) 779 6886


New Jersey Students and Community to Launch

“Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now!”

WHO: NJ Dream Act Coalition, NJ United Students, Anakbayan NJ, Mexican-American Progress Movement, Passaic DREAM Team, Essex County DREAM Team, Wind of the Spirit, PICO New Jersey, Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, and community at large

WHAT: From May 26-31, 2013, student and community groups are holding a series of actions to demand Governor Christie and the NJ State Legislature to pass A3509/S2479, which would allow DREAM Act- eligible youth to qualify for in-state tuition and access state financial aid at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, by the June 30, 2013 state budget deadline.

Community groups are urging concerned citizens to take a stand for a person’s right to affordable and quality education, regardless of immigration status. Everyone is invited to participate in the New Jersey DREAM Act Week of Action. Activities range from social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter to public forums, vigils and rallies across New Jersey.


May 25, 2013

Wind of the Spirit and SEIU 32BJ BBQ + “Papers” Film Screening

6pm @ First Memorial Presbyterian Church, 51 W. Blackwell St, Dover, NJ


May 26, 2013

Mexican American Progress Movement Immigration Reform Workshop + “Dream is Now” Film Screening

3pm @ Mexican American Community Center, 169 Lexington Avenue, Passaic, NJ 07055


May 29, 2013

“Day of Action”


Essex County Dream Team Coming Out of the Shadows

12-2pm @ Essex County College, Newark, NJ


Jersey City

Rally + Press Conference for NJ Dream Act

5pm @ City Hall, 280 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ


Union City

Choforitos United Rally for NJ DREAM Act

5pm @ Union City Plaza of the Arts (Bergenline Avenue, btw 30th and 31st streets), Union City, NJ


If you’d like to register an event as part of the NJ Dream Act Week of Action, contact Bea Sabino at (201) 779 6886 or email For an updated list of events, please visit

WHY: The NJTED Campaign launched with a rally at the State House in Trenton on January 8, just before Governor Christie’s State of the State Address. For the past 5 months, the NJ Dream Act campaign has been steadily gaining legislative and community support. Dozens of student groups, community organizations, labor unions and faith-based groups have signed on as endorsers of the campaign. The cities of Jersey City, Passaic, Elizabeth, Plainfield and New Brunswick all passed city resolutions urging the New Jersey State Legislature to enact the passage of A3509/S2479. Additionally, Essex County Freeholders and Union County Freeholders have both signed similar resolutions.

The undocumented immigrant population in New Jersey makes up 6.2% of the total state population, making it the fourth-highest rate in the nation. In New Jersey, undocumented immigrants make up 8.6% of the state’s workforce and paid $446.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010. Despite their contribution to the local economy, undocumented immigrants are required to pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend college, and are ineligible for financial aid and scholarships.

The New Jersey Dream Act Week of Action aims to supplement ongoing legislative visits with a demonstration of the people power behind the call for the implementation of A3509/S2479 in time for the Fall 2013 semester. It is time for New Jersey to join the 14 other states that have enacted similar legislation for aspiring undocumented youth.

For more information about the NJ Dream Act Campaign and how to get involved in the Week of Action, please visit: ###