What Next After High Court Backs Reduced Tuition for Illegal Immigrants?

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The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a California law that lets undocumented immigrants pay in-state college tuition.

No surprise there-- the legislature decided the issue a decade ago when it voted to use a high school degree as the “in-state” qualification and not the legal status of the student. 

Some 42 individuals, all U.S. citizens who paid out-of-state tuition to attend state-funded colleges, filed the petition seeking review of the 2001 law AB 540 through a conservative immigration law organization. 

They failed to get the required four votes from the nine-member high court to hear the appeal. By declining to hear the case the court lets stand similar laws in 12 states.

Still, it is unlikely that this will be the last challenge to state laws in California regarding students of illegal immigrants.

Next up: the Dream Act.

Last week the state Assembly passed a measure that would provide state grants and financial aid to college students who are in the country illegally. 

Students would be eligible for state financial aid programs such as Cal Grants.

The lower house of the California legislature passed the measure, AB 131, by a party line vote of 46-25. The measure now heads toward the California Senate where it is also expected to be approved.

A counterpart to the bill, AB 130, would allow the state's three government-funded college and university systems (UC, CSU and California Community College) to provide their own financial aid to undocumented students.

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed several previous incarnations of the bill.

Now proponents of the “Dream Act” are confident current Governor Jerry Brown will sign the bill, which he supported during his campaign. 

The problem for the governor may be timing. 

Mr. Brown is still demanding that current hikes in the sales, income and vehicle license fees be extended another five years. 

Anything that makes it appear the government is flush with money simply undercuts his argument. 

Legislative leaders wouldn’t mind sitting on this measure until after the budget debate fades from memory. 

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