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Immigration status of parents not relevant in Florida tuition rates

This past February we wrote a post on Florida's SB 106. The bill was an effort to allow citizens who were born in the United States but whose parents are undocumented immigrants to be eligible for in-state college tuition. The bill was ultimately not passed and these individuals were forced to pay out-of-state tuition to attend Florida post secondary institutions, despite, in many cases, having been born and lived in the state of Florida their entire lives.

The end of this past month, the matter took a turn for the better via another branch of the government-the judicial branch. A judge for the Federal District Court in Miami determined that regulations the state adopted in both 2010 and 2011, which denied certain benefits to the children of undocumented immigrants, were unconstitutional.

The case was brought against education officials in the state by five students, all of whom, despite having been born in the United States, and spending most of their lives in Florida, were under the regulations, deemed to be out-of-state residents when it came to tuition because of the immigration status of their parents.

Specifically, the ruling said that by not providing the plaintiffs benefits that were available to other students whose parents are citizens or in the country legally, the state's regulations created "a second-tier status of U.S. citizenship." In addition, the judge indicated that the regulations were counter-productive concerning the state's interest in "furthering educational opportunities for its own residents." When one considers the fact that in some cases out-of-state tuition is three times the amount of in-state, it is easy to see how these regulations could be prohibitive.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the immigration status of one's parents should have any bearing on whether they qualify for in-state tuition?

Source: The New York Times, "Court Rulings Help Illegal Immigrants' College-Bound Children," Julia Preston, Sept. 5, 2012

  • Immigration matters can be complex. Our firm handles immigration matters for individuals located throughout the state of Florida. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Miami immigration page.

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