- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

Should lawful residents of the United States qualify for the same in-state tuition discounts available to illegal aliens? And should states be able to grant illegals preferential treatment over legal residents of this country in violation of federal law? Ten days from now, the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case dealing with precisely these issues. That case, Day v. Bond, challenges Kansas‘s law providing in-state tuition to illegal aliens while denying it to U.S. citizens living out of state. For 2007-2008, tuition rates at the University of Kansas are $3,195 per semester for state residents and illegal aliens who qualify; U.S. citizens living outside Kansas pay $8,400 per semester - almost three times as much as illegal aliens who pay the discounted in-state rate.

On its face, the Kansas law (strongly supported by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius), would appear to directly violate federal law. In 1996, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, requiring that any state giving in-state tuition to illegals offer the same discounted rates to all U.S. citizens. Similar laws giving preference to illegal aliens have been adopted in at nine other states: California, New York, Texas, Illinois, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington.

The public interest has been ill-served by the lower courts’ handling of the Kansas case. In July 2004, a group of U.S. citizens who were students from out of state filed suit in U.S. District Court in Kansas pointing out that Mrs. Sebelius and the legislature were violating federal law in passing the in-state tuition bill. But the district judge hearing the case avoided the central issue, instead ruling that the American citizen plaintiffs lacked a private right of action to bring their statutory challenge. The court also found that they lacked standing to bring a constitutional challenge arguing that they had been denied equal protection of the law. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver declined to reinstate a legal challenge from students charging that the Kansas law violated the civil rights of Americans - granting illegal aliens the right to attend Kansas universities at in-state rates but denying that same right to U.S. citizens living outside the state.

It should also be pointed out that Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, Wyoming Republican (the leading congressional sponsors of the 1996 federal law) have filed an amicus curaie brief stating that this is exactly how they wanted the legislation to work - and that U.S. citizens have the right to sue in federal court to enforce their right to equal protection. We agree. The Supreme Court needs to hear this case and decide whether illegals deserve to be treated better than Americans.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide