Texas’ Tuition Policy Challenged

Joyce Howard Price, Washington Times, Aug. 24

The Washington Legal Foundation has filed a formal discrimination complaint against the state of Texas for a policy that offers in-state college-tuition rates to illegal aliens who live in the state, but denies them to out-of-state students who are American citizens.

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The group charges that Texas’ tuition policy for students attending public colleges and universities violates the civil rights of U.S. citizens who live outside the state.

The same tuition policy favoring illegals is in effect in eight other states: California, New York, Utah, Illinois, Washington, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Maryland’s General Assembly passed similar legislation in 2003, but Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed it.

Richard Samp, general counsel for WLF, said his group brought its complaint against Texas “since it was the first state to adopt a law allowing illegals to get in-state tuitions.” That law passed in 2001.

For those attending prestigious state-run colleges or universities, the “difference in tuitions charged (illegals and out-of-state students) can be $10,000 to $15,000 a year,” Mr. Samp said.

WLF says the tuition policies violate a federal statute enacted in 1996. That legislation, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, says that any state that offers discounted in-state tuition rates at public colleges to illegal aliens based on their residence in the state must provide the same discounted rates to all U.S. citizens.

In July, a federal judge in Kansas dismissed a lawsuit brought by two dozen out-of-state students attending public colleges in the state who challenged Kansas’ 2004 tuition law as a violation of federal law.

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