#Civil Rights
N. J. Attorney General, Jeffrey Chiesa, & the Executive Director of HESAA, Gabrielle Charette
United States of America

Approximately two years ago, the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority ("HESAA") began to deny U.S. citizen college students eligibility for Tuition Aid Grants ("TAG Grants") solely on the basis of the students' parents' immigration status.

As a result, hundreds, possibly thousands, of high achieving New Jersey high school graduates, who were accepted to approved New Jersey colleges, universities or proprietary schools, have had their college careers stopped or put on hold. In most cases notification to the student, of the withdrawal of their TAG Grant, occurred only weeks before they were scheduled to move in and/or start classes.

Although a New Jersey Appellate Court ruled this practice illegal this summer, in the case of A.Z. v. HESAA, the Attorney General's Office has indicated that it intends to file an appeal to try to have the ruling reversed by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

I join with the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey in calling upon Jeffrey Chiesa, New Jersey's Attorney General, to abandon plans to appeal the ruling of the Appellate Division in A.Z. v. HESAA.

As New Jersey's Attorney General, Jeffrey Chiesa has a duty to uphold and protect the constitutional rights of all citizens of the State. This duty will be compromised if the Attorney General authorizes an appeal to the N.J. Supreme Court seeking authority to continue the HESAA's practice of denying eligibility for TAG Grants to U.S. citizen college students on the basis of their parents' immigration status.

The appeal by the Attorney General's Office will contradict, and if successful undermine, Governor Christie's aggressive education reform agenda that intends to see more students like A.Z. complete college. Worse, it will create a second-tier status of U.S. citizenship in New Jersey.

A return to the practice of denying these students TAG Grants serves no legitimate interest and will harm the long term economic growth of New Jersey as well as individual students like A.Z.

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The END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST U.S. CITIZEN COLLEGE STUDENTS petition to N. J. Attorney General, Jeffrey Chiesa, & the Executive Director of HESAA, Gabrielle Charette was written by Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.