Wednesday, June 11, 2014
MALDEF FILES FEDERAL SUIT CHALLENGING SOUTH CAROLINA DISCRIMINATION AGAINST U.S. CITIZEN: Student Born in Texas, Legally Residing in South Carolina, Denied Lower Tuition and Aid to attend South Carolina Universities Based on Parents’ Status
Today, MALDEF filed Rocha Herrera v. Finan in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina Spartanburg Division, against the board members of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, asserting that they violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Commission promulgated a rule in 2009, creating a new “non-resident alien” category and denying a U.S. citizen resident of the State the rights of other South Carolina residents based on her parents’ immigration status.
The plaintiff, Angelica Rocha Herrera, a Texas-born U.S. citizen and South Carolina resident, was denied financial aid and in-state tuition because of the Commission’s new rule. Due to the Commission’s categorization of her as an ineligible “non-resident,” Rocha Herrera was disqualified from receiving the State’s LIFE scholarship and forced to forego her place in the selective South Carolina Teaching Fellows Program at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She instead opted to attend Converse College. Upon learning of her parents’ undocumented federal immigration status, Converse College also retracted all state-based financial assistance.
Rocha Herrera, an American citizen, moved with her family to South Carolina in the late 1990’s. She received a South Carolina high school diploma, is a registered South Carolina voter, has a South Carolina bank account, and other proof of her long established residence in South Carolina.
In this case, MALDEF seeks to uphold the Fourteenth Amendment and overturn South Carolina’s Commission on Higher Education policy depriving the plaintiff’s undeniable right to be considered a citizen of South Carolina, with all of the responsibilities and privileges of that status.