Supreme Court case to prevent undocumented children in-state tuition

Two of the Ranking-House Judiciary Congressman weighs in on a California Supreme Court case to provide illegal immigrants in-state tuition, while U.S. citizens who live outside the state continue to fork over costly out-of-state tuition dollars.

Congressman Steve King-IA and Lamar Smith-TX filed an amicus brief this week regarding California Supreme Court case Martinez vs. Regents of the University of California.

At issue is the ability for the state to give those in this country illegally more favorable tuition rates than legal American citizens.

Ranking Member Smith said, “We should not reward illegal behavior. It’s fundamentally unfair to tell American parents who are not from California, but have paid taxes all their lives that they have to pay higher tuition bills to send their children to college than do illegal immigrants.”

In a statement, he goes on to explain law-abiding citizens should be first in line to get reduced college tuition.

“Granting in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens without granting the same benefit to all U.S. citizens is a clear violation of federal law,” Congressman King added. “In light of the current economic crisis, the American taxpayer cannot afford to foot the bill for illegal aliens to attend college.”

The AB540 challenge was brought by U.S. citizen Robert Martinez and a number of other out-of-state college-age citizens who believe California’s grant of in-state tuition to illegal immigrants violates federal law, according to the statement.

The California Dream Act was put forward twice in the last couple of years and each time it reached Governor Schwarzenegger desk and both times it was vetoed.

“While I do not believe that undocumented children should be penalized for the acts of their parents, this bill would penalize students here legally by reducing the financial aid they (legal citizens) rely on to allow them to go to college and pursue their (legal citizens) dreams.”

AB540 requires that colleges and universities keep student information confidential, according to the bill. Furthermore the privacy a student shares with the college is protected by federal and state laws.

Potential students looking to skirt the scholarship/financial aid rules that require a valid Social Security number can visit This site offers information regarding AB540 in English and Spanish.

“With California’s $26 billion deficit, taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay one cent for illegal alien higher education,” says Congressman Brian Bilbray-R CA. “What part of illegal don’t you understand.”

The case will now be heard in the California Supreme Court.

“The California Supreme Court has not yet set a date for oral argument. The argument may not be until the latter half of the 2010 – and the decision usually comes within 90 days after the argument,” a source familiar with the matter said.

A brief history of AB540

1985- MALDEF argues Plyer vs. Doe before Supreme Court. The decision confirmed children of illegal immigrants were protected under the 14th Amendment, to receive a public education.

1985-1991- Leticia A vs. UC Regents and California State University System grants undocumented students to pay in-state tuition and qualify for state aid.

1991-1992 – The Los Angeles Superior Court overturned Leticia A ruling and took away the right to pay in-state tuition and student aid availability.

1992-2001 – Undocumented students were to pay out-of-state tuition and receive no financial aid.

2001 – California Democrat Gray Davis signed AB540 into law. This allowed undocumented students to pay in-state tuition if they completed three years of high school to prove residency.

Present – AB540 sits with the California Supreme Court, the plaintiffs (college-age students) seek to roll back AB540 until the same rules are applied to American Citizens. They would like to attend a college in another state and want to pay in-state tuition, if the illegals can do it, so should citizens.

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