Thursday, April 18, 2024

U.S Citizens Born to Undocumented Immigrants Sue for In-State Tuition at Florida Universities

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. born college students in Florida forced to pay out-of-state tuition because they were born to undocumented immigrants.

In some cases, life-long residents of the state say they are being forced to pay more than double the in-state tuition rate, sometimes forcing them to drop out of college.  For example, Florida residents pay about $1,200 in tuition per semester at Miami Dade College, but the price for out-of-state students is $4,500.

“None of us can control who our parents are. These are all U.S. citizens, folks who have been here all their lives, and they deserve the right to have an affordable education,” said State Representative Reggie Fullwood.

Despite being U.S. citizens, having Florida birth certificates and driver’s licenses, these students are treated as non-residents, and made to pay almost three times as much for tuition.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn the policies of the Florida State Board of Education and the Florida Board of Governors on the grounds that they violate the equal-protection clause under the U.S. Constitution.

Legal experts say the state is facing a costly lawsuit it is likely to lose if it chooses to defend the policy.

“This is going to be expensive for them to defend,” Michael A. Olivas, an immigration and higher education law professor at the University of Houston, said. “It’s going to be foolish, and, ultimately, they’re going to lose.”

The same week the lawsuit was filed a state lawmaker from Jacksonville filed a bill that would grant in-state tuition to all students who are U.S. citizens and residents of the state, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

“When you’re an American citizen, you’re an American citizen,” said State Senator Rene Garcia.

Wendy Ruiz, an aspiring podiatrist and one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit, is forced to work several part-time jobs to afford school and maintain her 3.7 GPA.

“As an American, and a lifelong Florida resident, I deserve the same opportunities,” she said.

Miami Herald

Huffington Post


  1. What a shame…