Bigots Lose: Cali. In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants Upheld
November 16, 2010
(ChattahBox US News)— The DREAM Act may have an uncertain future in the dysfunctional senate, soon to be populated with more short-term thinking nativist Republican members, but the state of California is not giving in to bigots. In a first of its kind ruling, the California Supreme Court unanimously upheld a state law providing undocumented immigrants with in-state tuition under certain circumstances. The high court rebuffed the plaintiffs’ argument that the state law violated a federal law banning educational benefits to illegal immigrants, based solely on residency. Justice Ming W. Chin found the state law constitutional because it “does not treat citizens worse than unlawful aliens.”
The challenge to California’s in-state tuition law was engineered by the virulent anti-immigration activist Kris Kobach, who authored Arizona’s draconian “show me your papers” law.
But the California Supreme Court found Kobach’s arguments did not hold water. The state law provides in-state tuition to all students who have attended high school in the state for three years, even if those students left the state after high school. Accordingly, the court ruled the in-state “exemption is not based on residence in California, which would run afoul of federal law.
The court was also persuaded by the intent of the legislature in drafting the law.
“The Legislature found and declared that ‘[t]here are high school pupils who have attended elementary and secondary schools in this state for most of their lives and who are likely to remain, but are precluded from obtaining an affordable college education because they are required to pay nonresident tuition rates”; and that ‘[t]hese pupils have already proven their academic eligibility and merit by being accepted into our state’s colleges and universities.”’
Besides Kobach, the top bigots in Congress, Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) also supported the challenge to undocumented immigrants receiving in-state tuition, by filing an Amici Curiae brief with the court.
When the Republicans resume control of the House in January, King, who once compared illegal immigrants to a “cockroach” is expected to become Chair of Subcommittee on Immigration, while Lamar, who advocates denying birthright citizenship to”anchor babies,” would take control of the House Judiciary Committee.
Recently, a Republican Hispanic group urged soon to be Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to reconsider the appointments of King and Smith to head the panels, because of their hateful rhetoric “that is aimed negatively toward Hispanics.”
The group Somos Republicans, writes: “Steve King and Lamar Smith have adopted extreme positions on birthright citizenship, and promise legislation that would undermine the 14th amendment of the constitution, which both swore an oath to uphold. While it is indeed the duty of the Judiciary and Immigration committees to oversee and enforce existing immigration laws, Representatives Smith and King have engaged in an ill-advised platform and rhetoric that has been perceived as insensitive with their inflammatory “immigration statements,” and this has caused an exodus of Hispanic voters to the Democratic party.”
The California Supreme Court ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Kobach and his fellow nativists should receive a more favorable reception from the divided 5-4 right-wing conservative court.
You can read the court’s entire opinion here.