In a move that stunned many Americans, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that some illegal immigrants should be eligible to receive in-state tuition for college.
A lawsuit challenging the ruling was brought forward by Kris Kobach, a law professor who drafted Arizona’s new immigration laws that are now moving toward federal appeals courts. California’s law is similar to those in nine other states, including Texas.
Staunch anti-immigration proponents like Kobach, as well as others with less extreme views on immigration, justifiably oppose what they consider a loophole that abuses benefits meant only for U.S. citizens.
However, the court ruled correctly based on the law.
According to section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a state for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”
California doesn’t require state residency for in-state tuition eligibility, just three years of attendance at a state high school. In-state tuition is available to everyone who meets this requirement.
This means that regardless of popular opinion, the law covers students who live near the border and attend charter schools in California, students who have recently moved to a different state and students who live in California but don’t have legal residency status.
In addition, to be eligible to receive in-state tuition, unlawful aliens must submit an affidavit saying they already have plans to legalize their immigration status or will do so as soon as possible, according to MSNBC.
Gaining acceptance into college is hard, even more so when faced with the difficult circumstances that many immigrant families face.
This is highlighted by the fact that, despite the large number of unlawful aliens in California, they’re not the largest group of non-residents receiving in-state tuition.
“Indeed, the Regents inform us that a majority of University of California students receiving the non-resident tuition exemption are in this country lawfully,” the court said in its brief.
It’s not foolish to allow unlawful aliens the opportunity to attend American colleges. In fact, it is an opportunity that will build students’ character and prove to be an asset to the global economy. Graduating college is still much harder for immigrants than U.S. citizens, as they don’t qualify for financial aid.
If Americans citizens and politicians are truly outraged, they must work toward making more specific federal laws.
Until then, anti-immigration crusaders like Kobach will have to be at peace with the fact that the nation’s brightest unlawful aliens can receive in-state tuition in the same state they developed the skills that warranted their college acceptance.