Phyllis Schlafly

The officials of some U.S. state universities and colleges and even some state legislators seem to think they can get by with openly disobeying federal law.

They are flagrantly violating the law that prohibits giving subsidized college tuition rates to undocumented aliens.

Shouldn't public officials, of all people, respect the rule of law?

Texas, California, New York and Utah have legislatively thumbed their noses at federal law by passing state laws that grant in-state tuition rates to people living in the United States illegally.

Laws in each of those states provide at taxpayer expense a benefit to undocumented aliens that is denied to U.S. citizens from the 49 other states. The monetary difference, which varies from state to state, can be as much as $11,000 per year. This windfall is given even though most state governments are facing budget shortfalls caused by a stagnant economy.

Federal law, Title 8, Chapter 14, Sec. 1623, states: "an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State ... for any post-secondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident."

There was no misunderstanding about what this statute means, either when Congress passed it, or when in 1996 President Clinton signed it into law. Conference Report 104-828 stated, "this section provides that illegal aliens are not eligible for in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education."

The universities think they can circumvent this law by simply not asking student applicants whether or not they are legally in this country. The Immigration and Naturalization Service said there is "no reason" for the INS to issue regulations because, according to a representative, the agency believes that undocumented aliens should be removed from the country.

In June 2001, Texas became the first state to pass a law giving in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants, although some universities in Texas, California and New York had been quietly doing this during the 1990s.

California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, vetoed a state bill in 2000 to give in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, but he signed such a bill in October 2001. The California Board of Regents then voted 17-5 to make this windfall available at the University of California.

Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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