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Back to December Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 299 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS DECEMBER 2010

CA Upholds In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants
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In November, the California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the state law that permits "undocumented students" to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. The law was challenged by 42 out-of-state students who contended that lower tuition should not be offered to illegal students while denied to some United States citizens. Tuition for out-of-state students at University of California campuses is currently $33,181, while in-state students pay only $10,302.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Michael J. Brady, argued that the California law is in conflict with the federal statute that prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving benefits based on residency or unavailable to citizens. California Supreme Court Justice Ming W. Chin said that the law is not based on residency, and therefore does not conflict with federal law. "Every nonresident who meets [the law's] requirements — whether a United States citizen, a lawful alien or an unlawful alien — is entitled to the nonresident tuition exemption," he wrote. The state's nonresident tuition exemption, passed in 2001, offers in-state tuition to those who attended California high schools for at least three years.

Kris Kobach, senior counsel with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, characterized the ruling as "superficial" and charged the California Supreme Court with "bending over backwards to defeat the intent of Congress." His organization asserts that there are more than 25,000 illegal immigrants attending the state's public universities and that the lower tuition rate costs the state more than $200 million annually.

California is one of ten states that grant in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants; lawsuits challenging those laws are currently pending in lower courts in Texas and Nebraska. California attorney Brady says he has every intention of appealing his state's Supreme Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. (npr.org, 11-17-10; Los Angeles Times, 11-15-10)


 
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