Thursday, December 15, 2005

Out-of-State Students Sue Over Tuition

LA times
ยท Plaintiffs are challenging California practices that require them to pay higher college costs than some illegal immigrants.
Contending that they are illegally charged higher tuition and fees than undocumented immigrants, a group of out-of-state students and parents filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against California's public university and community college systems.

The suit, filed in Yolo County Superior Court, challenges practices based on 2001 state legislation that allows certain undocumented immigrants to pay the same charges for college as other California students. California is one of at least nine states that permit some undocumented immigrants to pay in-state fees, an issue that has drawn fire from advocates of tougher policies against illegal immigration.

The suit contends that 60,000 out-of-state students at University of California, California State University and public community college campuses have illegally been required in recent years to pay higher, nonresident charges. For example, out-of-state undergraduates at UC campuses are paying an average of $24,589 to attend this year, versus the $6,769 charged students who qualify for in-state fees.

"We think this could be a major, precedent-setting case," said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based group that lobbies for tighter immigration restrictions. Providing in-state fees for undocumented immigrants "is something that rewards illegal immigration [and] encourages more people to violate the immigration law," Mehlman added.

"My job isn't to patrol the border. My job is to build healthy communities," said Marshall "Mark" Drummond, chancellor of California Community Colleges. "Regardless of the merits of these folks coming here in the first place, the point is to me that they're here, they're residents of communities, they are successful graduates of California high schools, and I personally welcome them to study and learn in our community colleges and contribute back to their communities."

To qualify for the lower in-state charges, students must have attended three years of high school in California, graduated from a California school and gained admission to one of the state's universities or colleges.


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