Matthew Barakat, AP, newsday.com, Feb. 25
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Colleges are within their rights to deny admission to illegal immigrants, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in a lawsuit targeting Virginia’s public universities.
The ruling dismisses the core claim of the suit filed by an immigrant-rights coalition — that the schools’ policy unconstitutionally usurped the role of the federal government in regulating immigration.
The lawsuit will be allowed to go forward, though, on the plaintiffs’ claim that the colleges are not using federal standards to determine which applicants are illegal aliens. The lawsuit alleges, for instance, that students with temporary legal status are being denied admission because they are perceived to have illegal status.
The lawsuit was prompted by an advisory opinion from Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore that recommended against enrolling illegal aliens. Latino-rights groups argued that the policy hurt children whose illegal status was no fault of their own.
Kilgore has argued that the benefits of higher education should be reserved for those who adhere to U.S. immigration law and are in the country legally.
The colleges named in the lawsuit are the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, James Madison University and Northern Virginia Community College.
Kilgore said he is pleased with Ellis’ ruling.
“I continue to believe that it is not too much to ask that people obey the laws of our society before they take advantage of what our society has to offer,” he said.
Tisha Tallman, a spokeswoman for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which helped file the suit, said her group was reviewing the decision.
Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press