Skip to comments.Tuition law for illegal immigrants challenged
Posted on 02/01/2005 4:27:27 PM PST by ken21
Tuition law for illegal immigrants challenged Lawsuit filed in says Kansas law, similar to Texas', violates federal statute
By Juan Castillo
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Almost four years after Texas became the first state to make in-state college tuition rates and financial aid available to immigrant children regardless of their legal status, a lawsuit filed in Kansas threatens Texas' law as well.
Gov. Rick Perry enacted House Bill 1403 in 2001, and supporters hailed it as a compassionate way to help immigrants attend college.
By fall 2003, nearly 4,800 students had taken advantage of the law at state institutions in Texas. Seven other states, including Kansas, passed similar laws.
But the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes illegal immigration, sued in July, challenging Kansas' law on behalf of about two dozen out-of-state students and their parents.
The lawsuit argues that the Kansas statute violates a 1996 federal law barring states from giving public benefits to immigrants who are in the country illegally. It contends that the state is violating another 1996 law forbidding states from granting undocumented immigrants residence status so they can qualify for in-state tuition.
Because the Kansas and Texas laws are similar -- both require students to live in the state at least three years before graduating from high school, and to declare an intention to seek legal resident status as soon as eligible -- an adverse ruling could undercut Texas' program.
"This would set a legal precedent," said federation media director Ira Mehlman. "Under federal law, any benefit a state makes available to an illegal alien must also be made to any legal resident of the United States, irrespective of whether they are residents of that particular state."
But immigrant advocate groups monitoring the case say Kansas, Texas and other states are not violating federal law because the requirements they set for in-state tuition apply to all students, whether in the country illegally or not.
"This is good policy because it behooves us to educate those who have already integrated into our communities, who are part of our communities, who want to contribute both to our local and federal economy," said Melissa Lazarin with the National Council of La Raza in Washington.
Kris Kobach, the federation's attorney, said he expects a judge to rule in the case this month or early March.
"We're very concerned about what kind of effect this is going to have," Marisol Pérez, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said recently.
The legal challenge is at the heart of a national debate about immigration and, specifically, what to do about educating the country's growing immigrant children population.
An estimated 1.5 million undocumented children live in the United States, many who came not by choice.
Pérez, who spoke at last week's Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education conference in Austin, said the federation is well-funded and is seeking to capitalize on an anti-immigrant climate. The Kansas case, she said, is "certainly having a chilling effect with the immigrant communities."
At their meeting, the Chicano educators and administrators also rallied behind federal legislation known as the Dream Act. The measure, which has bipartisan support and has been introduced every year since 2001, would allow some undocumented students to apply for legal residency, which could lead to citizenship.
An estimated 65,000 immigrants without legal status, who have lived in the country for at least five years, graduate from U.S. high schools each year. For most, college is unaffordable. But even if it were, the students cannot legally hold jobs in the United States.
Lazarin said La Raza is working with Congress to reintroduce the Dream Act.
Mehlman said the federation still opposes the legislation because members think it provides amnesty in addition to a taxpayer-subsidized higher education. He said proponents argue that those the Dream Act would help are in a quandary not of their making.
"But it is the parents who put them in that position by knowingly breaking the law," Mehlman said. "We all end up suffering for mistakes our parents make. . . . But we hold the parents responsible in our society."
A new student group at the University of Texas, Jovenes Immigrantes por un Futuro Mejor (Immigrant Youth for a Better Future), will press for passage of the Dream Act "because we already have students who are graduating (from college) and there is no prospect for them getting work authorization anytime soon," said Alejandra Rincón, immigrant students college coordinator with the Austin school district.
what's disgusting is that american out-of-state students don't get the same break.
didn't the clintonistas bulldoze the kennewick site because american indians didn't want archeologists digging there?
I can think of a couple of questions. Can someone who is here illegally still be considered a legal resident? Of course, there's a line where a State has the right to do what it wishes on certain issues, but to what extent does a state have an obligation to respect Federal law, especially in matters of immigration? This sounds like a jurisdiction issue, State versus Federal.
i'm not a lawyer.
my understanding is that it's the federal government's responsibility outlined in the u.s. constitution to protect our borders.
as for the illegal legal...that's what leftists want us to accept!
Yes, many years overdue. These idiots think they are being compassionate by giving a tuition break and a spot at a college to an illegal. What does that do? It takes that spot away from an American citizen.
Yes, and those kids didn't CHOOSE to live out-of-state. So why punish them?
and Legal immigrants pay taxes. Legal immigrants carry their own weight and support the economy.
everyone in the united states is compassionate, to varying degrees.
the burden of illegals is starting to destroy our way of life.
hospitals and libaries are closing, for example.
About bloody time!
Why not go to college in Mexico?
We gave them a 5 year education already. It's time for them to head back to their real home countries and unscrew them. They need to break the cycle, not us.
EXCELLENT! But one must remember these ethnic pressure groups always speak in hyperbole.
It also makes America even more of a magnet for illegal immigration. More illegal immigrants will bring their illegal alien offspring to glom onto our educational system. Not just K-12 but now through college too.
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