Judicial Watch Challenges New Jersey’s County College of Morris on Unlawful Tuition Policy for Illegal Aliens
“There is no way to reconcile CCM’s policy with federal law”
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There is no way to reconcile CCM’s policy with federal law. The policy provides a public benefit to individuals who are clearly ineligible for benefits [under federal law], and New Jersey has not authorized the provision of such benefits…CCM may not ignore federal laws when those laws are not consistent with its own policy preferences. We hope that CCM will reevaluate its new policy and conform it to the requirements of federal law.
On February 18, 2011, The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that “For the first time in nearly a decade, illegal immigrants will be allowed to take classes at the County College of Morris in a policy change that is drawing praise from some education officials and sharp criticism from immigration policy activists. The trustees at the Randolph-based college voted 7-1 earlier this week to reverse a rule barring undocumented students, school officials said. Starting this summer, the public two-year college will be one of the first schools in New Jersey to openly acknowledge it is enrolling illegal immigrants and allowing them to pay the same tuition rate as other county residents.” (Prior to the policy change CCM had barred illegal aliens from admission to the school.)Judicial Watch obtained a copy of the new CCM admissions policy, which states that any illegal alien who graduates from an American high school (or possesses a GED equivalent), is under the age of 35, and has lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years is eligible for admission. The policy stipulates that illegal alien students may pay a discounted in-county tuition rate.Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for state or local public benefits, including postsecondary education benefits such as reduced tuition, unless a state has enacted a law affirmatively providing for such eligibility. The State of New Jersey has not enacted such a law.“There is no question the County College of Morris has enacted an unlawful tuition policy. We can’t have colleges and universities ignoring federal law simply because they may have sympathies for a certain student population. We hope after considering the federal statutes at issue that the Board of Trustees will bring its tuition policy in line with federal law,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.On January 20, 2011, Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the Board of Trustees of Maryland’s Montgomery College for unlawfully offering discounted “in county” tuition rates to students who graduate from Montgomery County public high schools, regardless of their place of residency or immigration status (Philips, et al. v. Board of Trustees of Montgomery College (No. V342882)) . The lawsuit alleges Montgomery College’s tuition policy violates both Maryland and federal law and places a substantial financial burden on Montgomery County taxpayers, who subsidize the cost of students attending the community college. Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on behalf of Montgomery County taxpayers Michael Lee Philips, Patricia Fenati and David Drake in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The Maryland legislature, in an attempt to moot the legal challenge, passed legislation last week authorizing illegal aliens to obtain taxpayer-funded in-state tuition benefits.