Continued from page 1

In California, an estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants take advantage of lower in-state tuition to attend school in the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges systems. That’s less than 1 percent of the total student body for those schools, according to data compiled by the Sacramento Bee. So-called “AB 540” students at California universities received $26 million in value from their tuition waivers in 2007-08, the Bee reported.

If the Martinez lawsuit succeeds, it could cost the state as much as $3 billion in reimbursements to U.S. students who were for lower tuition, Mr. Hethmon said.

Critics argue that benefits such as lower tuition provide yet more incentive for immigrants to enter the country illegally.

The California Supreme Court ruling “reflects the difference in attitudes on the bench and the attitudes of the public, which is one of the more disturbing things we see in the illegal-immigration debate,” said Mr. Hethmon.

His organization has also filed a legal challenge to the Nebraska in-state tuition law.