Children of illegal immigrants are suing school officials in South Carolina for denying them in-state tuition.
A class action lawsuit filed this week in federal court by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Appleseed Legal Justice Center charges that policies classifying the children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S. and living in South Carolina as “non-residents” for the purposes of tuition, grants, and scholarships are discriminatory.
“This class action lawsuit challenges the policies of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (‘CHE’), the College of Charleston, and Trident Technical College that classify dependent U.S. citizen students who reside in South Carolina as ‘non- residents’ for tuition, scholarship, and need-based grant purposes solely because their parents lack requisite proof of citizenship or immigration status,” the lawsuit reads.
“These policies invidiously discriminate against Plaintiffs and other students who are U.S. citizens, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” it adds.
The suit was filed on behalf of three teens who argue that, despite the inability of their parents to prove they are in the country legally, they should be granted in-state benefits to pay for college in South Carolina.
The plaintiffs are suing as part of a class.
“The precise size of the class is unknown, but is clearly sufficient to warrant certifying a class. An estimated 170 U.S. citizen children of unauthorized immigrant parents in South Carolina are expected to newly enroll in higher education in South Carolina each year. Approximately 140 of these students are expected to newly enroll in public colleges or universities in South Carolina each year,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit calls for the court to declare that the policy of classifying the children of illegal immigrants living in South Carolina as “non-residents” violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
The suit further requests that the court prevent the colleges from requesting proof of students’ parents’ legal status to determine in-state benefits, as well as the cost of the suit and attorneys’ fees.