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Judicial Watch • Some States End Illegal Immigrant Tuition Break

Some States End Illegal Immigrant Tuition Break

Some States End Illegal Immigrant Tuition Break

JULY 09, 2008

Although ten states still grant illegal immigrants discounted public college tuition at U.S. taxpayer expense, many are beginning to reverse the outrageous and controversial policy which costs millions of dollars annually.

In the last few years four states—Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma—have created much-needed policies to refuse in-state college tuition at public institutions to those living in the country illegally. South Carolina recently became the first state to completely ban illegal alien students from all public colleges and North Carolina’s attorney general ordered its 58 community college campuses to stop enrolling illegal immigrants because admitting them violates federal law.

North Carolina’s attorney general is right. Federal law requires public elementary and secondary schools to enroll illegal immigrants but it prohibits illegal immigrants from obtaining tuition breaks that are not available to all United States citizens. Regardless, many states (California, Texas, Utah, Kansas, Washington and New York among them) continue to skirt the law by offering illegal immigrants the coveted perk.

In one highly publicized case, the courts actually sided with the violators. A group of American college students challenged the Kansas law granting cheaper in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, claiming the measure violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause because it offers illegal immigrants a benefit they could not get.

The suit asked the federal courts to require that the state either eliminate the tuition benefit for illegal aliens or offer the same rate to all U.S. citizens, even those from other states. A federal judge in Topeka ruled against the students, saying that they failed to demonstrate the law had harmed them and the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the decision.

It marked one of many court defeats to the growing effort to curb illegal immigration and the devastating effect it has had on states and municipalities across the nation. Local governments continue to create policies to get the job done, however, in the absence of federal enforcement. Eliminating discounted tuition at the nation’s taxpayer financed institutions is a great step.

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