Supreme Court Makes It Easier for Undocumented Immigrants to Go to College

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal earlier this week that challenged California’s policy of granting reduced, in-state college tuition to graduates of its high school who are illegal immigrants, The Los Angeles Times reports.  According to the newspaper, lawyers for the conservative anti-immigration group that pushed the appeal argued that “preferential treatment” for illegal immigrants violated federal law.  They pointed to a small provision in a 1986 law that barred stated from giving any postsecondary benefit to an “alien who is not lawfully present in the United States on the basis of residence within a state.”  Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s policy did not clash with federal law because the tuition help depended on a student’s high school graduation, not his or her residency.  It was the first ruling of its kind, and may pave the way for more states to follow suit.

In 2001 California decided to award in-state tuition to any qualified student who attended high school in California for three years and graduated.  Education officials in California have defended its policy, stating that many of those who took advantage of its in-state tuition policy were U.S. citizens who came from other states.  Though the court’s recent action is not an official ruling, it serves as beacon to 11 other states that permit illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition.  Among the bunch are Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin.  However, 12 states have clearly expressed refusal to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.