Tuition for Undocumented Students at Risk in California

Seven years ago California enacted legislation (known as AB540) that gave qualifying students the opportunity to pay in-state tuition, regardless of their immigration status. This allowed outstanding students, who had no say in their entry into the United States, the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Now, a class action law suit has been filed in an attempt to overturn this legislation – and it seems it is dangerously close to being overturned.

From the LA Times yesterday:

Foes of illegal immigration, who argue that generous benefits encourage lawbreakers to come to California, will rejoice at the decision. And we acknowledge the inherent contradiction of providing a public benefit to students whose parents presumably don’t pay any income tax to help pay for it.

Nonetheless, we believe that California’s law is in the state’s best interest. By law, states must provide K-12 education to illegal immigrants, and it’s counterproductive to then erect roadblocks to further advancement for our best and brightest. Studies show that investing in education for immigrants pays off. Assuming they remain in California, their economic contributions more than make up for the cost of subsidized college tuition within a few years. Forcing them to wallow in permanent poverty, by contrast, is a drain on taxpayers — as well as being flat-out immoral.

California is one of nine states providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, and given the absence of leadership from Washington, we don’t fault any of them for attempting to address the educational, economic and social needs of the populations within their borders. The real problem is not the states’ violation of congressional intent, but Congress’ failure to follow the trail blazed by the states.

Save AB540! Bright and talented students deserve the opportunity to be educated. This is not free tuition, this is not a handout – its students who have worked hard and will PAY to continue to work hard.

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