JULY 28, 2009
Although the attorney general in the first state to grant illegal immigrants discounted public college tuition has ruled that it’s not legal, the practice will continue until a lawsuit is filed in the matter.
Since 2001 Texas has offered illegal aliens heavily reduced, in-state tuition at public colleges and universities and a local congressman challenged the costly perk about a year ago by asking the state’s top law enforcement officer—Attorney General Greg Abbott—to rule on the matter.
Abbot finally issued an opinion stating that allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition breaks federal law though Texas annually grants the coveted benefit to thousands of undocumented students. The opinion was a no brainer considering that a 1996 immigration reform law forbids states from giving illegal aliens in-state tuition unless it provides the same for all students regardless of residency.
It was that law that led a group of out-of-state students to successfully challenge the practice in California. The students argued that California’s public university and community college system violated the law by charging them higher tuition and fees than undocumented immigrants. A state appellate court ruled in favor of the American students and the case is pending before the sate Supreme Court.
Similar legal action will be required for Texas to stop offering the lower tuition, even though the state’s top law enforcement officer has confirmed that it violates federal law. After all, the Lone Star State is a renowned sanctuary that led the national effort as the first to give illegal immigrants lower tuition (and financial aid) at taxpayer-financed institutions of higher education.
Utah, Maryland, Oklahoma and Wisconsin are among the others that also offer the benefit to those who have broken federal law by entering and living in the country illegally. If California’s Supreme Court upholds the appellate court’s decision on the matter, it could have a nationwide impact on the illegal practice.
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