Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Seven courageous immigrant students represented by Legal Aid Justice Center have won their effort to gain in‐state tuition eligibility—not just for themselves, but for thousands of Virginia recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced this morning that DACA recipients are eligible to apply for in‐state tuition under existing Virginia law, as the students had argued in a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center last year. Legal Aid Justice Center thanks Attorney General Herring for opening the doors of educational opportunity to these deserving Virginia students.
Last autumn, at a time when advocates were focused on trying to win in‐state tuition eligibility through the General Assembly, Legal Aid Justice Center attorney Simon Sandoval‐Moshenberg realized there was a parallel path worth pursuing at the same time. By his reading, DACA recipients should have already been considered eligible for in‐state tuition under existing Virginia statutes. The Legal Aid Justice Center filed a lawsuit based on this argument in Arlington County Circuit Court on December 17, 2013 on behalf of the seven students. Legal Aid Justice Center’s student clients had been granted DACA status by the federal government, were authorized to work in the United States, and met the legal presence requirement for obtaining a Virginia driver’s license. But although these students grew up in Virginia and graduated from Virginia high schools, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) had told them they were ineligible for in‐state tuition rates at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. The students’ lawsuit has been withdrawn. With today’s announcement by Attorney General Herring, the goal of the lawsuit has been accomplished.