Doesn’t Perry favor in-state tuition for illegals? No thanks.
Doesn't merely "favor" it. SIGNED the nation's first such LAW as Governor in 2001.
Illegal immigrants entering Texas’ higher education system are direct beneficiaries of a 1982 Supreme Court decision, Plyler vs. Doe. Parents in Tyler sued after the state began charging tuition for illegal immigrant children. The court ruled that Texas and the rest of the country must educate illegal immigrant children free of charge in public schools.
Some of the most vocal illegal immigration opponents don’t oppose the decision. But they say higher education is different, because it is tuition-based.
Suit challenges law
A lawsuit was filed in December challenging Texas’ law providing the students in-state tuition and state aid. The students are not eligible for federal aid such as Pell Grants.
Attorneys for the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas sued the University of Houston, Houston Community College and Lone Star College systems in Harris County District Court, but the case was moved to federal court. “It’s not like we’re swimming in budget surpluses,” said attorney David Rogers. “It’s the responsibility of the government of Mexico to educate Mexican citizens.”
Challenges to similar laws are also occurring in California and Nebraska. Arizona bans illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition.
Rogers argued that taxpayers suffer because of the law. It’s unfair, he added, that the state gives benefits that students from Oklahoma or other states can’t receive.
A challenge to a similar law in Kansas failed in 2005 after a federal judge found that out-of-state college students had no standing to challenge the law there, since they had not been harmed by it.
Rogers said states are not supposed to offer benefits to illegal immigrants that are not offered to eligible U.S. citizens.
But University of Houston law professor Michael A. Olivas said federal law clearly allows states to draft their own policies, and he believes the Texas case is similar to the Kansas one.
“It is a matter for states to determine,” he said. “In-state status is a state issue.”
Illegal immigrant students were never barred from enrolling in Texas colleges, but the higher tuition price tag for nonstate residents often meant they couldn’t afford to attend.
The Texas law requires students to attend school in the state for at least three years before graduation from a Texas high school. Students also must file an affidavit saying they plan to apply for permanent residency as soon as possible. State officials have argued that the treatment is not preferential in comparison to residency requirements for other students.
State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has tried sponsoring a bill denying education benefits to illegal immigrants in the past, but he later realized that went against the Plyler precedent.
“I have concerns about the expense for taxpayers,” Berman said. “We’re not providing enough grant and loan money to our own U.S. citizens.”
Carlos Hernandez , 27, was an illegal immigrant when he graduated from the University of Texas in 2005 with a degree in petroleum engineering. He has since become a U.S. citizen through marriage. He moved from Mexico to Texas when he was 9 years old.
He said many parents and students already pay taxes, and that he hopes immigration reform will create a “return on investment” for the state.