OCTOBER 21, 2011
In a case that could set a national precedent, Florida anchor babies are suing public education officials for making them pay the higher college tuition rate charged to out-of-state students because their parents are in the U.S. illegally.Born in the United States to illegal aliens, the students were required to prove that their parents are in the country legally in order to pay the discounted tuition fee offered to Florida residents at public colleges and universities. Most states offer the same perk, which saves residents a big chunk of change at taxpayer-funded schools.That’s why controversy has erupted recently over states, many of them cash-strapped, that grant the public benefit to illegal immigrants. This case is different, however, because the plaintiffs were actually born in the U.S. Florida has long required students to provide evidence of their parents’ citizenship to get discounted college tuition, even when the kids graduated from a local high school.The policy is discriminatory and a clear violation of the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to a complaint filed in federal court this week by five students who were charged higher out-of-state tuition. “Many talented American students must either forgo higher education or incur extraordinary costs, in both money and time, in order to obtain the same education made available to other Florida residents at a small fraction of the cost,” the suit says.A nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry filed the complaint in Miami on behalf of the students. It’s part of a broader effort to “reform school policies that unnecessarily push students out of school or otherwise limit their opportunities for a successful future.” In this case the higher tuition puts a college education out of reach for these particular Hispanic students.”In short, United States citizen students who reside in Florida but whose parents are undocumented immigrants are charged three to four times as much as other Florida residents for the same education at Florida’s public colleges and universities,” the complaint states. It further points out that the difference is staggering to the tunes of thousands of dollars.The defendants named in the lawsuit are Florida’s Commissioner of Education (Gerard Robinson) and the chancellor of the state’s university system, Frank Brogan.
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