Judicial Watch Pursues California Supreme Court Challenge to University of California In-State Tuition Benefits for Illegal Aliens
JANUARY 31, 2017
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Petition of Review in the California Supreme Court over the University of California’s provision of $27.1 million in taxpayer funds for non-resident tuition and financial aid to illegal aliens. The petition was filed on behalf of Earl De Vries, a legal resident and taxpayer of California (Earl De Vries vs. Regents of the University of California (No. BC555614)).
Federal immigration law requires that a state law providing benefits to illegal aliens must “affirmatively” provide for such eligibility. In 2011 the California State Legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid. Under the California Constitution, however, 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 the public benefits for illegal aliens. And, under the federal law, only state legislatures may provide any in-state tuition and public benefits for illegal aliens. Despite this, the UC Board of Regents began providing the benefits anyway.
In August 2014, Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer 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 had started giving 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.
In March 2015, the Superior Court dismissed the complaint and the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven, affirmed the Superior Court ruling on December 9, 2016.
The Judicial Watch California Supreme Court appeal argues that the lower courts ignored federal immigration requiring that a legislature “affirmatively” provide for the illegal alien tuition benefits and that the lower court decisions could upend federal immigration law:
[T]he decision undermines a cohesive national immigration policy, potentially turning a law that allows 50 state legislatures to make decisions into a law that allows 500 or 5,000 state and local institutions to do so [e.g., UC Board of Regents] – weakening the federal government’s ability to conduct unified diplomacy for the entire nation.
“California politicians want to do an end run around federal law to force California taxpayers to subsidize illegal aliens,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “In-state tuition for illegal aliens at the University of California violates state and federal law as surely as any other sanctuary policy – and California tax dollars must not be spent to violate the law.”