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Latino Daily News

Monday October 31, 2011

U.S. Citizen Students Suing Florida for Denying them In-State Tuition Due to Parents’ Status

U.S. Citizen Students Suing Florida for Denying them In-State Tuition Due to Parents’ Status

Photo: Wendy Ruiz, one of 5 students suing Floruda for denying them in-state tuition rates

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A group of American-born students have filed lawsuit against the state of Florida for denying them in-state tuition simply because their parents are undocumented immigrants, not the students.

‘As an American, and a lifelong Florida resident, I deserve the same opportunities,’ Wendy Ruiz told the Miami Herald.

Ruiz is one of five students suing the state for what they say is a violation of their rights as citizens.

Though Ruiz and the other students involved in the lawsuit were born in the U.S., their parents were not and do not currently have legal status.

Advocates for this group says their case has nothing to do with the DREAM Act, since legislation like that is intended for undocumented students and not legal residents born to undocumented parents.

Each semester, Ruiz has had to pay three times what other legal citizens have to pay, making the idea of advancing to another, more expensive school once she finishes up her current two-year Biology degree rather daunting.

The group’s representation, Tania Galloni, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center of Miami told the Palm Beach Post. ‘There is nothing in the statute that says they have to do this. This is an interpretation of the law being made by state officials.’

The lawsuit states, “Many talented American students must either forgo higher education or incur extraordinary costs, in both money and time, in order to obtain the same education made available to other Florida residents at a small fraction of the cost.”

Michael A. Olivas, a professor of immigration and higher education law at the University of Houston, said Florida is going to have trouble defending the denial of in-state tuition to legal Florida resident.

Simply put, Olivas said, “There’s no asterisk on citizenship. Either you are or you are not.” He added that attempting to defend the policy will be “expensive” and “foolish” of the state.