Illegal Immigrants Entitled to In-State Tuition, CA Supreme Court Rules

Gabriella Hoffman, Chairwoman for Young Americans for Freedom at UCSD

As a California student at a public university, I am dismayed by the recent California Supreme Court ruling upholding in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Students who graduated from state schools with high school diplomas would qualify for in-state tuition at California’s public universities and colleges under this new law. With more tuition hikes imminentat the University of California and the California State University systems at 8 percent and 15 percent respectively, this development is slated to enlarge our state’s budget problems and growing appeasement to those without U.S. citizenship.


Opposition to this ruling will be viewed by some leftists as a racist attack against minorities. Americans do not hate immigrants, contrary to the image leftists seek to craft on a daily basis. Our nation was established upon the efforts and contributions made by immigrants that fled to the United States in search of better opportunities. The land of opportunity welcomes each person with open arms, regardless of any skin color or country of origin. However, granting amnesty to people entering our country by illegal means—as the DREAM Act purports to do if it were passed—will prove deleterious to the state of California and our nation. Amnesty in the form of affirmation action is no excuse for undermining our education system further. Nevertheless, National Public Radio asserts:

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously this week that illegal immigrant students can continue to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. The controversial ruling makes higher education in California more affordable for students who don’t have legal status. Critics of the ruling say they are precisely the students who should not be in the United States in the first place.

Unfortunately, many people in the state of California are suffering from increased hardships. No one group should be entitled to special treatment just because they boast a certain skin color or national origin. Nevertheless, leftists will go to any means to pass this type of legislation. The L.A. Times elaborates that notion in the following:

Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving college benefits based on residency and not provided to all citizens. A lawyer for the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, which sided with the challengers in the case, said the ruling failed to acknowledge “clear tension between federal law and the state’s special financial benefits for illegal immigrant students.” The case is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. “California is not in sync with the federal mandate against giving Brownie points for being an illegal immigrant,” said Ralph Kasarda, an attorney with the foundation.

Yet, supporters of the ruling cite that it will not supersede federal law due to California’s nonresident tuition exemption of 2001, which offers in-state tuition to those who attended California high school for a minimum of three years. Students that qualify are either illegal or those that live out of California who met the minimum addressed above. The California Nonresident Tuition Exemption of 2001 is addressed here: http://sorrel.humboldt.edu/admissions/docs/eligibility/AB540.pdf

Any student, other than a nonimmigrant alien, who meets all of the following requirements, shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California Community Colleges, the University of California, and the California State University (all public colleges and universities in California).

• Requirements:
o The student must have attended a high school (public or private) in California for three or more years.
o The student must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency exam).
o An alien student who is without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.
• Students who are nonimmigrants [for example, those who hold F (student) visas, B (visitor) visas, etc.] are not eligible for this exemption.
• The student must file an exemption request including a signed affidavit with the college that indicates the student has met all applicable conditions described above. Student information obtained in this process is strictly confidential unless disclosure is required under law.
• Students eligible for this exemption who are transferring to another California public college or university must submit a new request (and documentation if required) to each college under consideration.
• Nonresident students meeting the criteria will be exempted from the payment of nonresident tuition, but they will not be classified as California residents. They continue to be “nonresidents”.
• AB540 does not provide student financial aid eligibility for undocumented alien students. These students remain ineligible for state and federal financial aid.

Continual efforts to undermine legal immigration will prove costly. If you follow American laws and have legitimate state residency, only then should one be permitted to relish in-state tuition—no exceptions.

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