Rutgers-Camden to hold college fair for unauthorized immigrants

CAMDEN — The state’s largest university is offering help for unauthorized immigrant students who want to attend college in New Jersey.

Rutgers-Camden will host a college fair Saturday for unauthorized immigrants interested in taking advantage of a New Jersey law that allows young people living in the country illegally to attend public colleges at in-state tuition rates.

The event will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Camden Campus Center at the corner of Third and Penn streets. In addition to getting information on how to apply to college, unauthorized immigrants can attend a “Know Your Rights” presentation by Rutgers Law School and get free individual legal screenings and referrals.

Controversial Rutgers college fair returns

Local educators are also invited to attend the free session to learn how to help students living in the country illegally apply to college.

This is the third year Rutgers has held information sessions designed for unauthorized immigrants. Previous college fairs on the Newark and New Brunswick campuses have attracted hundreds of unauthorized immigrant students and their families who packed the events to capacity.

At the first “undocuRutgers” college fair at Rutgers-Newark in 2015, the university increased security and limited access to the session after organizers received threats. Rutgers officials also barred the media and the public from the sessions to protect the students’ privacy.

Security will also be present at this year’s session in Camden and the media will not be permitted into the event, said Mike Sepanic, a Rutgers-Camden spokesman. Because there is no advance registration, campus officials do not know how many people will be attending.

“We don’t know how large a gathering we will have,” Sepanic said.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals measure — known as DACA — that allows young people brought to the country illegally as children to apply to stay in the country temporarily.

President Donald Trump said in April that DACA students should “rest easy,” because his administration has no plans to crack down on the students known as “dreamers.”  

Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation, called the N.J. Dream Act, in 2013 that allows children who were brought to the U.S. illegally to pay in-state tuition at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities. Rutgers has said previously that it holds the informational sessions because students have asked questions about how to apply since the law was passed in 2013.

Under the previous system, unauthorized immigrants had to pay out-of-state tuition at New Jersey’s public colleges, which was usually double the in-state rate.

Though they can attend public colleges at in-state tuition rates in New Jersey, unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for state or federal student financial aid. Several private organizations and some colleges, including Rutgers, offer scholarships for students living in the country illegally. 

Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.

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