Judges tosses tuition to illegal immigrants suit

2010-12-17T15:31:00Z 2010-12-17T19:35:04Z Judges tosses tuition to illegal immigrants suitBy KEVIN ABOUREZK / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
December 17, 2010 3:31 pm  • 

A Jefferson County judge dismissed a lawsuit Friday that sought to stop Nebraska colleges and the University of Nebraska from giving in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants.

While District Judge Paul Korslund left the door open for the Immigration Reform Law Institute to refile the suit, an attorney for several of the colleges said he's confident his clients will overcome any future litigation.

"I think they have a very long road ahead of them," said George Martin III, an attorney representing the Nebraska State College System and five of the six community colleges being sued.

In January, the institute sued the NU Board of Regents, the Board of Trustees for the State College System and the Board of Governors for each of the Nebraska community colleges to end the practice of universities and colleges offering in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants. The institute, saying the schools' actions violate federal law, had filed the suit on behalf of six Jefferson County residents.

Korslund didn't specify what agency the institute should approach, though he referenced an Arizona court's decision that pointed to federal agencies being responsible for enforcement of immigration laws.

"It is likely that the plaintiffs will follow Judge Korslund's advice and attempt to urge the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the federal law that Nebraska is breaking," said Kris Kobach of the institute.

Kobach confirmed that he is related to four of the six Jefferson County plaintiffs. He also has been a prominent voice nationally in arguing for immigration enforcement, including in Fremont and Arizona. In November, he was elected secretary of state in Kansas.

Kobach said he doesn't expect the federal agency to stop Nebraska colleges and universities from giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

However, he said, he was hopeful the case would be allowed to continue once the institute had tried and failed to gain relief from the Department of Homeland Security.

"It's not the end of the road," he said. "It's just a bump in the road."

Reach Kevin Abourezk at 402-473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.

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