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IRLI Seeks Supreme Court Review of California Decision to Allow In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens


On February 14, 2011, IRLI filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari (attached here) asking the United States Supreme Court to review the California Supreme Court’s November 2010 decision in Martinez v. Board of Regents, which upheld a California State statute that grants in-state tuition to illegal aliens. “The California Supreme Court wrongly held that states can give resident tuition benefits to illegal aliens despite the federal ban, as long as they use a semantic proxy, such as attending a California high school,” said IRLI attorney Garrett Roe.

IRLI and local counsel Michael Brady of Palo Alto-based Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley, represent a class of United States students who have been forced to pay out-of-state tuition to attend colleges and universities in California, even while the State offers more than 25,000 illegal aliens in-state tuition rates every year. In-state tuition is one of the most valuable public benefits that a State can bestow. In 2010, the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at the University of California at Berkeley was $11,439.50 per semester. Over four years, that difference is $91,422 per student. In other words, non-resident US citizen students have to pay nearly $100,000 more in tuition payments to earn an undergraduate degree from Berkeley than do illegal aliens enrolled at taxpayer-subsidized resident rates. These subsidies for illegal aliens currently cost the taxpayers over $208 million every year.

In 1996, Congress passed a law that prohibits a State from giving illegal aliens “postsecondary education benefits on the basis of residence,” unless the State also gives those same benefits to every US citizen student, regardless of their residency. The legislative history shows that Congress wanted to make it fiscally prohibitive for States to give in-state tuition or other financial aid to illegal aliens. But in 2001, the California legislature irresponsibly created a legal loophole which if not stopped, will make illegal aliens who attended a California high school for three years eligible for the expensive tuition subsidies.


IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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