1776 Coalition :: Illegal immigrants can qualify for in-state college tuition, court rules

Illegal immigrants can qualify for in-state college tuition, court rules

by
November 16, 2010

By Maura Dolan and Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times

Illegal immigrants who graduated from state high schools can continue to receive lower, in-state tuition at California’s public universities and colleges, the California Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday.

The ruling is the first of its kind in the nation. California is one of 10 states that permit undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition, which can save them $23,000 a year at the University of California.

“Throughout the country, the California court decision will have reverberations,” said Daniel J. Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Assn. of State Colleges. He predicted that it would discourage challenges to similar policies in other states.

Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving college benefits based on residency and not provided to all citizens.

A lawyer for the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, which sided with the challengers in the case, said the ruling failed to acknowledge “clear tension between federal law and the state’s special financial benefits for illegal immigrant students.” The case is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“California is not in sync with the federal mandate against giving Brownie points for being an illegal immigrant,” said Ralph Kasarda, an attorney with the foundation.

But state officials insist that there is no conflict with federal law. Under California’s nonresident tuition exemption, approved in 2001, public colleges can offer in-state tuition to those who attended California high schools for at least three years. Some of those students are illegal immigrants. Others are U.S. citizens who attended high school in California but whose families may now live elsewhere, or those who moved out of the state to study or attended boarding schools in California.

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