California court rules illegal immigrants can pay in-state tuition

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Illegal immigrants can qualify to pay cheaper in-state tuition rates at California public universities, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The California Supreme Court’s unanimous decision reversed a ruling by the state Court of Appeals and allowed the state’s higher education institutions to continue their policy of allowing certain unlawful immigrants to pay in-state rates. The lower court had ruled that such immigrants, even if they lived and studied in California, should be treated as “nonresidents” when it came to how much they paid to go to these schools.

The Supreme Court decision addressed federal laws, which appeared to restrict some education-related benefits for illegal immigrants, and state laws, which appeared to authorize such people to receive in-state rates if they qualified.

A California state law, which took effect in January 2002, said those “without lawful immigration status” — if they qualify on other grounds — can get in-state tuition rates if they have “filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status.”

But the plaintiffs in the case pointed to a federal law that stated illegal immigrants cannot qualify “for any postsecondary education benefit” (in this case, lower tuition rates) if other U.S. citizens didn’t get the same benefit.

In its decision, the California Supreme Court found that federal law did not trump state law in this case.

Full story: California court rules illegal immigrants can pay in-state tuition – CNN.com