College students in Florida who were born in America to undocumented immigrants say they're getting financially shafted by the state.
A class-action lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of the students, claims that these students are unfairly forced to pay out-of-state tuition, because their parents are undocumented. The suit notes that these students are U.S. Citizens.
"These policies attack our most fundamental American values by punishing children for the actions of their parents,” Jerri Katzerman, director of educational advocacy for the SPLC said in a news release. “It's an unconscionable attack on students from immigrant families that more than triples the cost of a college education."
The lawsuit alleges that policies of the Florida State Board of Education and the Florida Board of Governors treat students who are residents of Florida as non-residents because the students’ parents are undocumented.
The price difference is significant. The SPLC notes that the cost per term in the four-year bachelor’s degree programs at Miami Dade College is $1,400 for residents and $6,246 for non-residents.
"I can't afford that. So that's why I was like, I need to speak up, because I can't pay for this amount on money, you know?" 19-year-old sophomore Wendy Ruiz tells NPR. "And I should be in-state, not out-of-state."
Ruiz is one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The Miami Herald reports that a Jacksonville state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would grant in-state tuition to Americans born to undocumented immigrants. The paper reached out to officials at the Florida Department of Education and the Board of Governors, but they declined comment, because the litigation is pending.
CORRECTION:A previous headline misstated the group represented in the lawsuit. The action involves Florida students who were born in America to undocumented immigrants. The students are American citizens.