On October 19, 2011, dependent students denied Florida in-state tuition by state undergraduate institutions because of their inability to prove their parents' lawful immigration status filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against ...
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On October 19, 2011, dependent students denied Florida in-state tuition by state undergraduate institutions because of their inability to prove their parents' lawful immigration status filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Florida State Board of Education and the State University System of Florida Board of Governors. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and class certification. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' policy that classified them as non-residents based on their parents' federal immigration status was unconstitutional, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and the Supremacy Clause under the United States Constitution.
The plaintiffs were all United States citizens born in the United States and they had lived in Florida for many years. They were unable to establish their parents' lawful immigration status, which was required under the defendants' policy to determine eligibility for in-state tuition. Hence, the public institutions in Florida denied in-state tuition to the plaintiffs due to such state regulations, and, as a result, the plaintiffs either had to delay their higher education or forego it entirely.
On February 24, 2012, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding several individuals from the defendant agencies in their official capacity as defendants to the lawsuit. The District Court (Judge Kevin M. Moore) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Ruiz v. Robinson, 2012 WL 3278644 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 9, 2012). The Court reasoned that the expenses and burden of maintaining a class action outweighed the benefit of granting class certification in this case, and the Court did not find an imminent threat of mootness that would require a class certification in this case.
On August 31, 2012, the Court granted summary judgment in part to the plaintiffs and denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Ruiz v. Robinson, 892 F. Supp. 2d 1321 (S.D. Fla. 2012). The Court held that the defendants' regulations that classified the plaintiffs by virtue of their parents' undocumented immigration status violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Court found that the defendants' classification did not advance any legitimate state interest. The Court denied as moot the Supremacy Clause claim raised by the plaintiffs.
On October 25, 2012, the Court entered final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on their equal protection claim. The Court declared the defendants' regulations unconstitutional and an incorrect interpretation of the relevant substantive laws. The Court also issued an injunction that banned such regulations. Thus, the defendants could no longer require dependent citizen students who could otherwise establish their and their parents' Florida residency to provide proof of their parents' lawful immigration status for determination of their eligibility for in-state tuition benefits. On December 18, 2012, both parties entered into a settlement agreement on attorneys' fees and litigation costs. The defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs in sum of $100,000. This ended the case. Emma Bao - 06/10/2013