In a unanimous decision this morning, the California Supreme Court ruled that illegal immigrants may remain eligible for in-state tuition rates at University of California colleges and universities, rather than have to pay the higher out of state rates. The decision overturns a lower court ruling, which found that California law violates a federal prohibition on giving educational benefits based on residency to illegal immigrants. About 25,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to receive in-state tuition rates in California, according to the Los Angeles Times, and undocumented students accounted for less than three-tenths of 1% of the UC student body in 2007-2008 (that’s roughly 660 students), according the UC system. Illegal immigrants remain barred from government financial-aid programs. Most legal scholars expect today’s ruling to be appealed, in which case it could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Regardless of how you might feel about the issue of illegal immigration, should students who have already gone through California’s school system have the same financial eligibility to attend California’s universities?
Ethan P. Schulman, attorney with Crowell & Moring in San Francisco; He argued the case before the California Supreme Court on behalf of the defendants, the UC Regents
Kris W. Kobach, is a national expert on constitutional law with the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI); Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; he argued the case before the California Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiffs
Neils Frenzen, Director, USC Law's Immigration Clinic and is a practicing immigration attorney