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Supreme Court tosses challenge to Calif. tuition law

Published on Mon, Jun 06, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a California law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates, a decision that gave a boost to supporters of a similar law approved this year in Maryland.

California’s 2001 law, which grants in-state college rates to students who attended a California high school for three years and graduate, was challenged by a conservative immigration group that argued the provision conflicted with federal law. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case and did not comment on that decision.

A California court had previously upheld the law.

The law is similar to one signed in May by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Opponents of Maryland’s law are attempting to gather 56,000 signatures to suspend its provisions and put it on the ballot so that voters can decide its fate next year. Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin have comparable tuition laws.

Opponents said last week they had cleared an early hurdle in the petition drive, securing more than the 18,500 signatures initially needed to keep the effort alive. Del. Patrick L. McDonough, has said he expects opponents will also file a lawsuit to stop the law. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican, was not immediately available for comment.

Those in favor of the law cheered the court’s decision.

The state law "is absolutely lawful under federal law and the California decision is just one more in a litany of court finding making that declaration," said Kim Propeack with the immigration advocacy group CASA de Maryland.

The decision “is good news for supporters of in state tuition,” said Wendy Sefsaf , a spokeswoman with the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center. “It's also good news for those who believe these young students who were brought to the U.S. at a young age and educated in our schools should be able to finish their educations so they can be more productive and contributing citizens.”

Del. Neil C. Parrot, a Washington County Republican, said he agrees with the Supreme Court decision not to hear the case because, he said, federal courts should not weigh in on what is essentially a state issue. He said he does not believe the case will have any significant impact on his effort to overturn the law in Maryland.

"We're confident that the people of Maryland are not going to support this bill," he said.

Published in the Baltimore Sun | Read Article