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In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is preserved with California Supreme Court ruling [Updated]

Chin The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday that illegal immigrants may continue to be eligible for in-state tuition rates at the state's colleges and universities rather than pay the higher rates charged to those who live out of state.

In a ruling written by Justice Ming W. Chin, one of the panel's more conservative members, the state high court said a California law that guarantees the lower tuition for students who attend California high schools for at least three years and graduate does not conflict with a federal prohibition on giving illegal immigrants educational benefits based on residency.

California is one of several states that permit illegal immigrants to take advantage of lower college tuition for students who attend high school and graduate in state. About 25,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to receive in-state tuition rates in California.

A group fighting illegal immigration challenged the California law on behalf of U.S. citizens who pay the higher tuition as out-of-state students. The group won in lower court, and the state appealed.

The lawsuit contended the California law usurped a federal prohibition on giving educational benefits based on residency to illegal immigrants but not all U.S. citizens.

College students who are in the country illegally are barred from government financial-aid programs. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected eventually to decide whether the lower tuition rates also violate federal law.

[Updated at 10:29: The court observed that the state law also benefits U.S. citizens who reside in other states but attend and graduate from high school in California.

"It cannot be the case that states may never give a benefit to unlawful aliens without giving the same benefit to all American citizens," Chin wrote.]


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--Maura Dolan in San Francisco

Photo: California Supreme Court Judge Ming W. Chin in 1996. (Bob Galbraith / Associated Press)


Comments () | Archives (803)

Excellent ruling. As long as the Federal Government does not bail out California, they can do whatever the heck they want. So I hope they continue to do what they always did and then we can use them as case studies.

I read a post a couple of days ago, that the USA is paying Mexico reparations under the radar? Because the US can not pay out, it allows drugs to fill its streets, illegal immigrants come and work with government approval, local law enforcement is not allowed to detain them, because its a federal law, just like bank robbery, but they are allowed to engage bank robbers, illegals can buy homes and cars, get free education and social documents for communication, they can peddle goods on busy street corners and not even get a citation, the open store front businesses without licenses, they do business from catering vans and never have to be inspected, ice cream trucks that are unregulated, and drive past a local business or Hispanic church, and they are selling food out in the environment without a question of its safety, they can go into a local emergency room and get medical treatment and walk away without a hitch, Americans who cant afford it, are if nothing else sent into collections to recover the cost. Affordable housing is filled with them, section 8 food stamps, wic, and bus tokens are freely given away by county facilities, the government know who is working with false documents, and where they are working, and does nothing about it, the US deports the criminals and it has become a revolving door, California has a 12% unemployment rate, the lest they could do is mandate e-verify to open up some jobs for Americans, but they have not?

It cant be for the vote, because not all of them vote, or would vote. SO WHY IS IT, that illegal immigrants have benefits in AMERICA, that AMERICANS DO NOT HAVE?

No surprise that Justice Chin is involved since tons of the illegals in both the UC and Cal State system are Asian.

Illegal is illegal! Why should illegals get benefits from citizen's hard earned tax dollars?
Can I go steal from a store and just call it undocumented buying?

As someone who graduated from a California university as a legal immigrant (and now a naturalized U.S. citizen), this is complete and utter BS. I played by the rules and willingly paid the higher fees, and people who break the laws get rewarded? In some ways, I'm glad California is going bankrupt.

WIC, title one schools, ER as your primary physician and now a break on college tuition. So what's the down side of sneaking into my country illegally? Third world here we come.

As a California Native I am deeply ashamed of this ruling by the State Supreme Court. I've served my country faithfully for the past 24 years and California is just going down the tubes. Illegal aliens are bankrupting the State. Wow and now they are going to take up a precious slot that some deserving hard working citizen could have had! But no we decided to give it to an illegal alien! Give me a break...I know now were my hard earned taxes are going just like every other social services in the state that has been inundated by illegal’s pretty soon you won't be able to go to any university in California if you do not have illegal status. Oh and by the way try and go to Mexico or anywhere else and try and pull that crap and I bet you my hard earned tax dollars that you will be denied entry due your illegal status......BTW I am currently stationed overseas in an Asian Nation and I know for fact that they do not have the problems with illegal immigration the way we do in the US.

Idiocracy in all it's glory....

I doubt any of the people that left comments on here ever went to law school, or at the very least studied legal philosophy.

"judicial activism" yeah... O-K.


I stopped donating to the U.C. system as soon as they started giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition. They obviously don't need the money.

What is it in the word illegal that they don't understand?

So an illegal alien will pay a lower tuition than a US citizen from another state??

Is this a call or encouragement to go illegal for all those legal aliens folks who struggle to get their kids through college ?

This might just work better than expected...

These judges should be called what they are, traitors.....

Illegal immigrants OK for in-state tuition, but my 21-year-old grandson--who is a documented resident of California--has been denied the same treatment. That--says UC Berkeley--is because he is not "financially independent." What student at Berkeley IS financially independent?

It will teach California a lesson if the U.S. Supreme Court says "fine, lower tuition for illegals, but you have to give the same rate to all the out-of-state students too." I'm starting to think the faster we go belly-up, the sooner we'll recover.

It's unconstitutional for a State to enact a law concerning the illegals if the purpose is to curtail illegal immigration because the federal government has pre-empted this field, but it's OK for a State to enact a law concerning the illegals if the purpose is to give goodies to the illegals. That doesn't seem to enfringe on the fed's pre-empting the field. So strange.

California is just stuck on stupid.

You've got to be kidding. This is a joke, right?

The rest of the United States will one day SOON be bailing out the State of California because this kind of skewed logic pervades everything from lower tuition for illegals to Happy Meals in San Fran.

California, please secede from the Union so we won't have to clean up your mess when the implosion happens.

I thought federal law trumps state law? That's what the courts ruled when they threw out part of the Arizona law.

Now we hear that state law trumps federal law?

I guess the courts just rule in favor of the illegal immigrants at all times. If state law favors illegals, rule in favor of that. If federal law favors illegals, rule in favor of that!

Because they are such special, special people, unlike us worthless Americans who are only good for paying taxes to provide illegals with their "better way of life."

So in California, not only do we make it a safe place for ILLEGALS to come and live, we give them free healthcare, free money which is spent in every place but the 1 intended and now we give them cheap tutition that they pay for with the free welfare money....


Too bad Jerry Brown will only help make a bigger mess out of this place.

Get busy, California U.S. citizens, and recall your Supreme Court Judges! Your constitution and laws allow you to do it so get online and find out how. Take the power back from organizations like MALDEF. Organize and do it!

California has absolutely lost its dam mind. Illegal immigrant means being in the country illegally. Why the hell should someone who is not here legally in the first place be eligible for in state tuition.

Its time for the people in California to start having recall petitions circulated to throw every politician and judge out on the street. Do it today.

Stupid is as stupid does.
And we have a governor that thinks we should legalize marji. course no ones ever says what will happen to workman's comp. ins. or safety in the work place.
Just because CA is liberal and arrogant does not make us smart.

I remember when the people of our state had to be able to count to ten and find the way home from the market before they were elected to represent us in the government. From what is happening now I see that isn't so. California is an embarassment to me and our country.

I am glad that CA allow the illegal the right to have lower tuition as if they were living here in the state. I laugh at all those other commnets on here stating that becuase of this, that CA is on a downward spiral. Im pretty sure if you look at in a different way, mnay other state are going down hill too and its just thta we are getting all the attention. Do some research on the economy of other state and it will open your eye to realization that the entire U.S. economy is falling apart not just CA.

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