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Monday, July 19, 2004

Kansas City Star | 07/19/2004 | Kansas lawsuit challenges in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants

Kansas City Star | 07/19/2004 | Kansas lawsuit challenges in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants
Posted on Mon, Jul. 19, 2004





Kansas lawsuit challenges in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants

By JIM SULLINGER

The Kansas City Star


TOPEKA — A Washington-based immigration reform group filed suit in federal court today challenging a new Kansas law allowing some undocumented immigrants to attend state universities at the lower, in-state tuition rate.

If the federation is successful in the Kansas case, it could bring into question similar laws in Oklahoma, California, Utah, Texas, Washington, Illinois and New York.

Kris Kobach, the attorney representing the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the law that went into effect July 1 violated federal law and was unfair to out-of-state students attending Kansas universities who are American citizens.

Most of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are college students attending state schools in Kansas. Several were on hand at a news conference called by the federation.

“These students are suing to protect their equal rights under U.S. law as well as their equal rights under the U.S. Constitution,” said Kobach, who also is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House in Kansas' 3rd District.

Kobach said he will try to get a temporary restraining order issued prior to the start of university classes next month. That would prevent students who might take advantage of the law from getting the in-state rate.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Reginald Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents, praised the new law for removing barriers to higher education.

Under the bill approved this year by state lawmakers, non-citizens who attend a Kansas high school for three years and obtain either a Kansas high school diploma or a Kansas-issued GED are eligible to enroll in the state's public colleges and universities at in-state rates without regard to their immigration status.

“I personally have enough student loans to pay off two cars,” said Michelle Prahl, a student at the University of Kansas from Bentonville, Ark., who is one of the plaintiffs. “I have mortgaged my future while someone who is here illegally can pay less than I do.”

Prahl said she has lived in Kansas three years and married a Kansas resident but is still unable to get in-state tuition.

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