Illegal Utah Aliens and In-State Tuition

At first glance, it seems unfair for Utah to provide lower-cost, in-state tuition to non-resident aliens. But precautions are in place that make it more fair than it seems.

In a March 2003 article on the Eagle Forum website, Phyllis Schlafly chastized four states, including Utah for contravening Federal Law by providing, lower-cost in-state tuition to illegal aliens. I have not studied the laws enacted by the other three states, but the Utah law makes a great deal of sense.

In 2002, prior to the Eagle Forum article, the Attorney General of the State of Utah gave the opinion that Utah actually is in compliance with Federal Law in allowing in-state tuition to "nonimmigrant aliens". His letter to the President of the University of Utah on the subject is reprinted here.

Most importantly, Utah is not allowed to provide in-state tuition to aliens if it violates Federal law. To wit, if it would provide the same lower-cost tuition to other groups of residents or foreign nationals, it can offer the same to nonimmigrant aliens. The letter linked to above provides a few instances of where Utah does offer such a benefit.

Furthermore, in Utah's case, alien students can only be considered for in-state tuition if they have attended a Utah high school for 3 years and have graduated (or equivalent) from a Utah high school.

To tighten up matters even more, the student's family must be in the process of applying for legal US residency to be considered for the in-state tuition benefit.

The United States can absorb a large influx of immigrants. Many of the problems thought to lie at the feet of illegal immigration actually are the blame of government programs. Students who are furthering their education while at the same time attempting to become American citizens should be considered potential Utahns.

The board of regents is tasked with writing the rules for the implementation of the law. Assuming they have included punishment rules for fraudulent use of the benefit, I am in favor of providing in-state tuition to those potential Utahns who have complied with Utah law.


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