Friday, 13 October 2006 00:45

Extended Resident fees extened to illegal immigrants law to be appealed

A Yolo County judge's ruling upholding a California law that allows public colleges and universities to extend resident fees to illegal immigrants will be appealed, lawyers for the plaintiffs said Wednesday. "We fully intend to appeal," said Kris Kobach, an attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, adding the challenge will be filed within the next few weeks in the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. The class action lawsuit was filed last December on behalf of out-of-state students who claimed that giving certain undocumented immigrants an in-state tuition break discriminated against legal U.S. residents who are charged a higher tuition. The plaintiffs argued the California law violates, among other matters, federal immigration reform legislation passed in 1996.
But Superior Court Judge Thomas Warriner concluded last week that the challenge to Assembly Bill 540, which the Legislature approved in 2001, lacked legal merit. "There has been no showing that Congress intended the Immigration and Naturalization Act or any other federal statute cited by the plaintiffs to occupy the field of determining resident tuition rates at state universities and community colleges," Warriner wrote in his decision. Robert Rubin, legal director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, argued the law does not violate federal law because tuition benefits are not restricted to illegal immigrants. All a prospective student has to prove is that they are California high school graduates who have spent at least three years in a high school in the state. “This important decision insured the rights of all longstanding residents of California, including undocumented immigrants, to afford a state college or university tuition," Rubin said. But Kobach said "this is really just the first stage of a multi-stage lawsuit."