Tuition statute overruled for immigrants’ children
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 00:09
A federal judge in Miami ruled that Florida is discriminating against U.S.-born Florida residents, whose parents are undocumented immigrants by charging them out-of-state tuition.
U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore ruled Tuesday against a Florida statute which states that dependent students must prove their parents’ residency within the state to be eligible for the cheaper in-state tuition. A student’s citizenship did not matter in the statute’s rules.
According to the Associated Press, Moore determined the statute violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause “by forcing those students to unfairly pay three times as much as Florida students. Children born in this country are citizens whether or not their parents have legal immigration status.”
It was a victory for the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC,) which filed a class-action lawsuit last year on behalf of a few Florida students who were denied in-state tuition for not proving their parents’ residency.
A SPLC press release stated, “The court’s ruling states that the Florida’s tuition policy is a clear Constitutional violation.”
During the most recent state legislative session, House Bill 441 would have implemented Moore’s ruling, but the bill died in March.
“I am thrilled by today’s court ruling,” Fla. Rep. Hazelle Rogers said in a press release. “Education is the hallmark of the American dream and should be accessible, affordable and available.”
For the 2012-13 school year, the USF Tampa campus charges Florida residents $208.68 per credit hour, whereas non-residents pay $539.43 for out-of-state tuition.
— Reporting by Diedra Rodriguez