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Courts overturn higher tuition rates for immigrants' children

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Obtaining a post-secondary education is a crucial step towards earning a good, stable job and ascending our country's socioeconomic ladder. Like other states around the nation, Virginia and Maryland have well-regarded and prominent public colleges and universities that provide an education at reduced tuition rates to instate residents.

For many young people across the country, the instate tuition discount makes college affordable and places a college degree within their grasp. Yet in a number of states, there is one group that has not been allowed to take advantage of the benefits of instate tuition: children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants. That is slowly changing, however, as evidenced by a string of court decisions that have ruled that the children are eligible for the reduced tuition rate.

The latest case to reach that conclusion comes from Florida, where a federal district court stated that it is unconstitutional to deny U.S. citizens access to instate tuition rates even if their parents may be illegal immigrants. The ruling hinged on the Constitution's equal protection clause, which has played a crucial role in a number of prominent cases involving discrimination.

The court's decision struck down a state policy that subjected Florida children of illegal immigrants to tuition that was three times greater than that required of instate residents. Similar results have been reached in California and New Jersey.

Immigrant families face an array of challenges merely to remain and work in this country. Court decisions like these, however, show the progress that is being made to protect immigrants' rights.

Source: Associated Press, "Illegal immigrants' children eligible for in-state Florida tuition," Sept. 5, 2012

• Achieving one's immigration goals can be a long and difficult process. If you would like more information on our firm, please visit our Maryland naturalization and citizenship page.

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