Huge news on the illegal immigration front — and it’s good news, for once — out of California.
A court has ruled that the DREAM Act in the Golden State (providing in-state college tuition breaks to illegal aliens while denying those benefits to law-abiding native Americans, naturalized Americans, and legal out-of-state residents) is in conflict with federal immigration law:
A state appellate court has put a financial cloud over the future of tens of thousands of undocumented California college students, saying a state law that grants them the same heavily subsidized tuition rate that is given to resident students is in conflict with federal law.
In a ruling reached Monday, the state Court of Appeal reversed a lower court’s decision that there were no substantial legal issues and sent the case back to the Yolo County Superior Court for trial.
“It has a huge impact,” said Kris Kobach, an attorney for the plaintiffs and a law professor at the University Missouri at Kansas City. “This is going to bring a halt to the law that has been giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.”
He said it is a big win for California taxpayers who have been subsidizing education for undocumented immigrants.
The suit was filed in 2005 by out-of-state students attending California colleges. They challenged the state’s practice of allowing illegal immigrants to pay significantly lower tuition than they pay at the University of California, the California State University and the California Community Colleges.
UC charges out-of-state students nearly $18,000 a year more than it charges resident and undocumented students who graduated from California high schools. At CSU, out-of-state students pay about $8,000 more. And at the state’s 110 community colleges, they pay an average of about $160 a unit instead of $20 per unit – or $1,920 for a full load instead of $240.
The suit was dismissed by the Yolo County Superior Court in 2006, setting up the appeal.
On Monday, three justices of the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento said that a 2001 state law, AB540, conflicts with federal law. The state law provides the benefit of in-state tuition to undocumented students while the federal law says an illegal immigrant cannot receive that benefit unless the same benefit is extended to all U.S. citizens without regard to California residency.
The three California college systems specifically limit the benefits to students who attended a California high school for at least three years and graduated from a state high school.
In the ruling, the appellate justices said: “The state statute allows the benefit to U.S. citizens from other states only if they attend a California high school for three years. Thus, the state statute does not afford the same benefit to U.S. citizens ‘without regard to’ California residence,” as required by the federal law.
Plain as day. No way around it.
Noam Askew and Eugene Volokh have further analysis.
Law-abiding students in every state with a DREAM Act should follow suit…literally.