A federal judge in Florida ruled that students who live in-state and were born in the United States yet have parents who are undocumented immigrants cannot be made to pay out-of-state tuition. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore declared that the policy violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it forced students who are United States citizens to pay up to three-times as much as other Florida residents.
“The state regulations deny a benefit and create unique obstacles to attain public post-secondary public education for U.S. citizen children who would otherwise qualify for in-state tuition,” Moore said. “This is simply incorrect. The ruling will not prevent the state from continuing to distinguish between in-state residents and out-of-state non-residents,” Fox News reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and five college-age students in South Florida filed a law suit after the students were denied in-state tuition rates even though they were Florida residents who were born in the United States and graduated from Florida high schools.
Moore ruled in favor of the students because he believes the students, not their parents, are responsible for making sure tuition payments are made. He cited a 1982 Texas case in which the U.S. Supreme Court granted a secondary school education to students who are in the county illegally.
The importance of higher education is extremely notable in the current economic situation. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 the unemployment rate for individuals with a high school diploma is 9.4 percent, compared to 4.9 percent for individuals with a bachelor’s degree. A college degree also allows workers to receive a higher income, according to the Palm Beach Post.
By giving these students the opportunity to attend college, Moore is giving them easier access to one of the best tools for a successful future.
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