May 13, 2005 – Hispanic and Latin American groups are siding with the state of Kansas in a case that could affect undocumented immigrants who wish to attend college.
The Kansas law, which took effect last July, provides in-state tuition rates to immigrants who attend a Kansas high school for at least three years, earn either a diploma or a GED, and sign an affidavit stating they will apply for US citizenship. Thirty students took advantage of the law this year, gaining a lower tuition than out of state students must pay to attend state universities in Kansas.
A group of out-of-state university students and their parents are challenging the Kansas policy, claiming that it violates federal immigration law. Even though the requirements for undocumented immigrants are significantly higher than for citizens wishing to establish eligibility for in-state tuition, the plaintiffs say Kansas is not allowed to offer any benefit to undocumented immigrants that it does not also extend to all US citizens.
Kansas attorneys countered that all students in the US have the ability to establish residency in the state or fulfill other requirements for obtaining in-state tuition. They also argued that the out-of-sate students have no right to sue because they do not stand to be affected by the ruling. If the law is struck down, they said, the suing students would still be required to pay out of state tuition.
On Tuesday, a federal judge heard arguments in the case, which was filed last summer.
Kansas is one of eight states extending in-state tuition to undocumented residents. Yesterday, Connecticut lawmakers narrowly defeated a measure that would have made it the ninth.