Rutgers University's first-ever college information fair targeted at undocumented students saw more than 220 people and a lot of buzz this weekend. The school's three-hour "undocuRutgers" event took place Saturday at the New Jersey state university's Newark campus, and went smoothly despite much criticism from conservative groups, NJ.com reported. Faculty and admissions officers gave prospective students advice on enrollment and financial aid. The event was the first of its kind in New Jersey, following previous immigrant college fairs in Illinois and Missouri.
Police were on hand at Rutgers to deal with protesters at the fair but experienced no problems. News media were not allowed inside in order to keep attendees' information private. "I love it because it makes you feel comfortable," 20-year-old Andrea Rodriguez told NJ.com. "It's always good to let people know you're undocumented and you're unafraid. We didn't choose to be in our situations. But we have to embrace who we are."
The college fair invited immigrants who were not in the country legally but were still covered under the New Jersey Dream Act, which affords in-state tuition rates to foreign-born individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children. Out-of-state Rutgers students pay about $27,500 a year for tuition, according to NJBIZ, while residents pay about $13,500. Undocumented students are not eligible for state or federal loans or grants. Since Gov. Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Dream Act into law in 2013, Rutgers' admissions offices have seen an increase in inquiries from prospective -- but undocumented -- students. New Jersey has about 525,000 unauthorized residents.
Though no protesters disrupted the "undocuRutgers" session itself, heated conversation about the event continued online. "New Jersey taxpayer dollars are hard at work helping illegal immigrants attend college," read an article published on teaparty.org. Others took to Twitter to express their outrage.
#Rutgers is now reaching out to attract undocumented students who can't afford tuition. Funded by other students & US taxpayers, of course.
— Jim S. (@BurghFan99) February 15, 2015
— Chuck Wanamaker (@CW_Money) February 13, 2015
— Kevin (@bankre) February 13, 2015
I RESENT my tax $$ being used by Rutgers to signup illegal aliens! Let's hear your statement about this!!!
— Leslie Peckham (@lpczyes) February 13, 2015
Rutgers university is hosting a job fair for illegal immigrants. For illegals. You heard that right. Burn America burn.
— elfutbol professior (@NotJoeLeeDunn) February 13, 2015
NJ State College recruiting illegal aliens! "Rutgers campus holding admissions fair for illegal immigrants" Takes seats from honest students
— Stephen Frank (@capoliticalnews) February 13, 2015