JANUARY 21, 2011
January 21, 2011
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
JW Files Lawsuit to Stop Government Tuition Benefits for Illegal Aliens
Would you approve of your tax dollars being used to subsidize the college education of an illegal alien? My guess is that your answer is the same as mine. Absolutely not! But that’s exactly what is taking place in Montgomery County, Maryland. And Judicial Watch has decided to take legal action to stop it.
On Thursday, January 20, we held a press conference in Annapolis — Maryland’s historic state capital — to announce the filing of a taxpayer lawsuit against the Board of Trustees of Maryland’s Montgomery College for unlawfully charging discounted “in county” tuition rates to students who graduate from Montgomery County public high schools, regardless of their place of residency or immigration status.
Our new 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 student tuition. 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.
Here’s a partial summary of JW’s argument (as described in our complaint):
Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for state or local public benefits, including post-secondary education benefits such as reduced tuition, unless a state has enacted a law affirmatively providing for such eligibility. The State of Maryland has never enacted a law affirmatively providing that unlawfully present aliens are eligible to receive reduced, in-county tuition at public institutions of higher education, including community colleges such as Montgomery College…
Pursuant to Maryland law, “Montgomery College is required to charge out-of-state tuition to any student who attends a community college in the State of Maryland and is not a resident of the State…”
Defendant Board’s long-standing policy is causing substantial, pecuniary loss to taxpayers in Montgomery County and the State of Maryland. By providing reduced, in-county tuition to all students who graduate from Montgomery County public high schools, regardless of their residence or status as unlawfully present aliens, Montgomery College is failing to collect revenue that, by state and federal law, it is required to collect.
By law the tuition paid by a student who attends community college is determined by a student’s place of residence. Here’s how it breaks down: Students who are residents of the county or counties supporting the community college they attend are charged an in-county rate. Students who are residents of the State of Maryland but reside outside the county or counties supporting the community college they attend are charged an in-state rate. Students who reside outside of the State of Maryland are charged an out-of-state rate.
This seems like a simple, straight-forward approach to me.
However, Montgomery College has a long-standing policy of providing graduates of Montgomery County public high schools, including illegal aliens who unlawfully reside in the United States, the lowest, “in-county” tuition rate regardless of their place of residence.
Montgomery College described its policy in financial statements for Fiscal Years 2007, 2008 and 2009: “[T]he Montgomery College policy is applicable to all persons, equally, and includes all citizens as well as undocumented aliens…” The tuition policy was formally adopted by Montgomery College’s Board of Trustees on November 15, 2010.
But it bears repeating. The tuition policy is illegal.
This is probably why Montgomery College’s tuition policy is so vastly different from other institutions of higher education, as The Washington Post noted recently: “Some public colleges in the region don’t admit illegal immigrants as students, and those that do typically charge them higher non-resident rates because they cannot prove legal residency.”
Laws in Maryland and Virginia allow public universities to accept illegal aliens, but they are under no obligation to do so, and these institutions certainly cannot provide them illegal perks in the form of discounted tuition. (In fact, the University of Virginia, as the Post notes, has gone to court to protect its right to deny admission to illegal aliens.)
How much money are we talking about here? Between 2006 and 2009, Montgomery College failed to collect $5,870,852 in tuition because of its policy to unlawfully allow illegal aliens and other “out-of-state” students to pay a discounted “in-county” tuition rate.
By the way, this policy has been questioned by the College’s own auditors. Maryland State Delegate Pat McDonough first alerted Judicial Watch to this issue last year, prompting Judicial Watch to conduct an independent investigation, which led to this taxpayer lawsuit.
As one our clients, Mike Phillips, said at our press conference, the policy is simply “grossly unfair.”
Montgomery College’s funneling of tax dollars to tuition benefits for illegal aliens is against the law. And this policy is especially egregious in this age of government budget crises. Our taxpayer clients hope the court will put a stop to Montgomery College’s policy of providing illegal perks at taxpayers’ expense.
Judicial Watch Details Ambitious Investigative Agenda for 112th Congress
We now have a new Congress, the 112th, or the “Tea Party Congress,” as it has been called, owing to the large number of conservative challengers who beat liberal incumbents on Election Day. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Judicial Watch and its members to help Congress hold corrupt politicians — especially the out-of-control Obama administration — accountable to the rule of law.
After all, a large number of these new members of Congress focused their campaigns on the issue of cleaning up corruption in Washington. And so, to help these new members keep their campaign promises and abide by the dictates of American voters, Judicial Watch this week released its list of “investigative priorities” for the 112th Congress.
Our list, in alphabetical order, includes:
- ACORN Corruption: Including, but not limited to, ACORN restructuring and rebranding; unethical activities by ACORN affiliates; incidents of voter registration fraud (Project Vote); and new Obama administration grants and funding for ACORN-linked groups.
- Financial Solvency: Including, but not limited to, the impact nationally if individual States should begin to default on their debt.
- Government Bailouts: Including, but not limited to, the government’s legal and constitutional justification for authorizing the bailouts of private financial institutions; government deliberations regarding which institutions received grants from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP); the decision by the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) to place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under “conservatorship;” and the government takeover of the American automotive industry.
- Illegal Immigration: Including, but not limited to, the President’s attempts to enact stealth amnesty for illegal aliens without approval by Congress; deteriorating security on the nation’s southern border with Mexico; and the Obama administration’s unwillingness to enforce federal immigration laws.
- National Security: Including, but not limited to, the Obama administration’s mishandling of Guantanamo Bay and the decision to prosecute 9/11 terrorists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorists in civilian courts on U.S. soil.
- Obama Administration Czars: Including, but not limited to, the President’s decision to bypass Senate confirmation and appoint “czars” to hold positions of power within the Obama administration as well as various corruption scandals involving individual “czars.”
- Obamacare: Including, but not limited to, the criteria used by the Obama administration to provide “waivers” to companies and unions exempting them from provisions of Obamacare; the Obama administration’s decision to evaluate medical treatments based solely on cost; and the regulation and funding of Obamacare in general.
- Pension Fraud: Including, but not limited to, the funding and management of public pension plans for municipal, state and unionized government workers.
- Politicization at the Department of Justice: Including, but not limited to racially and politically motivated decision-making in federal civil and voting rights enforcement (such as the decision to largely abandon a voter intimidation lawsuit against the Black Panthers); Justice’s decision to attack states that attempt to address illegal immigration through enhanced law enforcement measures; and the duties and responsibilities of lawyers inside Justice who previously represented terrorists.
- White House Bribery: Including, but not limited to, an effort by the Obama administration to allegedly interfere with Senate elections in Pennsylvania and Colorado by offering federal appointments to candidates Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Andrew Romanoff in exchange for abandoning their campaigns.
Obviously our list is not exhaustive and I’m sure you have an issue or two you’d like Congress to finally investigate.
The American people spoke clearly on Election Day: No more backroom deals, no more influence peddling and no more corruption. This new Congress has an obligation to honor the intense desire by the American people to clean up corruption in Washington.
Under the Obama administration, the federal government has grown exponentially in size and scope, yet much of this new activity has escaped effective congressional oversight. It is well past time for Congress to help pry loose information from the Obama administration, which is the most secretive in recent American history.
And Judicial Watch stands ready as a trusted resource to help members of Congress as they move forward with these various lines of investigation.
I also urge you to push your elected representatives on these issues, distribute this list to your networks, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, and do whatever else you can to get the word out to support our latest effort to hold our government accountable to the people.
Records Show T-Shirts Cost University of Arizona $60,000+ for Obama’s “Together We Thrive” Tucson Event
Was that a memorial for the victims of the Tucson shooting tragedy or a pep rally for President Obama that was held last week at the University of Arizona? Many were discomforted by the constant screams and cheers at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting.
Adding to the inappropriate atmosphere were thousands of blue “Together We Thrive,” t-shirts and posters plastered all over the place, an obvious play on a popular Obama presidential campaign theme from 2008.
Perhaps it was also the fact that the whole event was “branded” in the first place: “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America.”
Perhaps it was the cheering throngs of Obama fans whooping and hollering as the President took to the stage, making the whole event seem more like a pep rally than a memorial. (And the same goes for Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who also reportedly received a thunderous reception.)
Or, conversely, perhaps it was the smattering of boos that erupted when Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, took to the stage to deliver her remarks — a reaction that “would have been hard to imagine, say, in the days after the Oklahoma City bombing,” the New York Times noted.
Perhaps it was all of those shameless attempts by liberals to play politics with this massacre leading up to the memorial event — suggesting, if not outright claiming, that this tragedy was the fault of “right wingers” in general and Glen Beck and Sarah Palin specifically. (I documented many of these ridiculous statements last week.)
Even the President himself made a subtle attempt to put the shooting in a political context — during his 31 minute speech! — when he talked about the “sharply polarized” nature of political discourse in our country.
Given the political nature of the event, many questioned how it was set up and, specifically, whether the White House was involved in the t-shirt controversy. Being the curious folk we are, Judicial Watch filed a public records request with the University of Arizona asking for the following information:
- Any and all communications, contracts or correspondence between the University of Arizona and The White House concerning, regarding or relating to T-shirts bearing the logo “Together We Thrive: Tucson & America,” distributed to attendees at the January 12, 2011, memorial service for the victims of the January 8, 2011, Tucson shooting, held in the McKale Center on the campus of the University of Arizona.
- Any and all records concerning costs associated with T-shirts bearing the logo “Together We Thrive: Tucson & America,” distributed to attendees at the January 12, 2011, memorial service for the victims of the January 8, 2011, Tucson shooting, held in the McKale Center on the campus of the University of Arizona.
Well, just yesterday (January 20), the University told us it had no documents responsive to our first request. And it gave us one document responsive to our second request showing that the t-shirts cost the University of Arizona $60,885. Supposedly, the University of Arizona is paying this bill without the use of “tuition, state allocations, tax dollars or student fees.” Money is fungible, so the taxpayer apparently helps pay this bill, however indirectly.
If we are to believe this official response, there are no records showing Obama White House involvement. Not only are we curious, but we’re skeptical. And we will push back a bit to ensure we’re not being trifled with by yet another government entity that doesn’t want to produce embarrassing documents.
In the meantime, I leave it up to you to judge whether $60,850 for silly t-shirts for a memorial service is an appropriate expenditure for a public university.
Until next week…
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