Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Building a Path to a Dream: Martinez

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California that California law could provide in-state tuition to any student who proved residency in the state by attending a California high school for three years, and graduating. The state statute did not violate federal immigration law. Martinez reverses a 2008 lower court decision finding the statute violated federal law which prohibits providing postsecondary benefits to aliens, based on state residency if the same benefits are not available to non-resident citizens.

Justice Ming W. Chin, writing for the Court, points out that the benefits are not, in fact, based on California residence. Instead, this statute bases the benefit on attendance at, and graduation from, a California high school. The decision cites statistics showing that the majority of those using the benefit are not illegal immigrants, but instead, are legal U.S. residents who graduated from a California high school and then moved elsewhere.

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