Judicial Watch Continues Legal Fight against University of California to End Taxpayer-Funded Tuition Benefits for Illegal Aliens
Appeals Lower Court Decision in Taxpayer Lawsuit Challenging UC Regents Policy Awarding State Financial Aid, Loans, and In-State Tuition Waivers to Illegal Aliens
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on November 9, 2015, it filed an appellate brief with the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, on behalf of a California taxpayer who seeks to end as much as $27.1 million in yearly tuition benefits to illegal alien students attending University of California schools. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Earl De Vries, a legal resident and taxpayer of California (Earl De Vries v Regents of the University of California (BC555614)).
In August 2014, Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on behalf of De Vries in the L.A. County Superior Court asking the court to halt the estimated annual $19.6 million in non-resident tuition waivers, $4.3 million in taxpayer-funded grants and scholarships, and $3.2 million in state loans the Regents have started giving out to illegal alien students. Under California law, taxpayers have the right to sue government officials to prevent unlawful expenditures of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources.
Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens are ineligible for state or local public benefits. The only exception to this federal law is when a state “affirmatively provides for such eligibility” to illegal aliens, and if the state does so “only through the enactment of a State law…” While the California State Assembly passed statutes granting these tuition benefits to California State University students and California Community College students, it did not do so for University of California students. This makes all the tuition benefits awarded by the UC Board of Regents illegal under federal law.
The California State Assembly did not provide the benefits to University of California students because it cannot do so under state law. Under the California Constitution, the UC Board of Regents is “entirely independent” of the state legislature in policy matters, so there is no lawful way for the California legislature to allow or require the University of California to provide public benefits to illegal aliens. And so, under the federal law, the UC Board of Regents is prohibited from providing in-state tuition or other tuition benefits to illegal alien students.
In March 2015, the trial court ruled that the UC Board of Regents’ policies themselves (not the state statutes) are the “state laws” which affirmatively provide the benefits to UC students in satisfaction of federal law and dismissed the lawsuit. As Judicial Watch’s appeal brief explains, in reaching this conclusion, the trial court impermissibly reads extra words into Congress’ statute which are not there. Specifically, the federal statute in question “does not say ‘state law or administrative rule, regulation or policy.’ It says ‘State law.’ This means an enactment of the state legislature.” The brief further explains the trial court also reads certain words out of the federal statute:
If Congress wanted to authorize states to make unlawfully present aliens eligible for public benefits by issuing administrative rules, regulations, or policies or by county or municipal statutes or ordinances, it obviously could have said so. Instead, it used the words “only through the enactment of a State law.” The word “only” indicates Congress’ intent to exclude other governmental actions, and the words “enactment of a State law” indicates Congress meant legislative action. To construe this sentence otherwise would impermissibly omit these words and change the meaning of the statute.
“The University of California Board Regents certainly cannot override federal law requiring that only a state’s legislature can provide taxpayer money for public benefits to illegal aliens,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Because of politics, too many state officials think the rule of law does not apply when it comes to illegal immigration. The courts should remind the members of the UC Board of Regents that they are not above the law.”
“As a California taxpayer, I know that the hard-earned money I pay this state in taxes can’t be spent illegally,” said De Vries. “The UC Board of Regents isn’t the same as the California State Assembly, and the Board has no legal right to hand out my tax dollars to illegal aliens as tuition benefits.”