In-state tuition for illegal immigrants survives, Supreme Court declines case
The Supreme Court refused Monday to hear a challenge to a California law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.
The US Supreme Court refused on Monday to examine a California law that allows illegal immigrants to attend state colleges and universities at preferential in-state tuition rates that are roughly one-third the cost charged to students from out-of-state.Skip to next paragraph
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Under the state law any individual – regardless of immigration status – who graduates from a California high school after attending for three years qualifies for the same tuition discount offered to California residents.
The discounts apply at all public universities in the state, including the system’s most prestigious and highly-competitive institutions.
Eight other states have enacted similar provisions, offering illegal immigrants in those states the same in-state tuition discount offered to state residents. Those states are Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Oklahoma passed a similar law, but later repealed it.
A group of out-of-state students filed a lawsuit challenging the California law. The suit says the state measure conflicts with and is preempted by a 1996 federal immigration statute that forbids states from offering resident tuition rates to any illegal immigrant unless the state offers the same preferential tuition rates to all US citizens regardless of their state residency.
A state judge dismissed the suit, but a California appeals court ruled that the state provision was preempted by the federal immigration law.
The California Supreme Court reversed that decision, ruling that the state law did not confer a benefit on illegal immigrants based on their residence in California.
The state law based the preferential tuition award on criteria other than the student’s state of residence, the state high court said. The in-state tuition is granted on the basis of attendance at and graduation from a California high school. Although most graduates from California schools do, in fact, reside in California, the high court reasoned that not all graduates are residents.
Minor children of out-of-state parents who attend boarding schools in California qualify for resident tuition rates. So do students who live in an adjoining state or country and attend high school in California.