When Wendy Ruiz graduated from high school she was determined to pursue post-secondary education. She soon found out that she would be treated differently than other US citizens: although Wendy was born in the US and raised in Florida, the state of Florida denies in-state tuition rates to US citizens living in the state but unable to prove the lawful immigrant status of their parents.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the Florida State Board of Education and the Florida Board of Governors on behalf of Wendy, Noel Saucedo, Caroline Roa, Kassandra Romero, and Janeth Perez and all others similarly situated. The lawsuit charged that the state’s policies are unconstitutional because they discriminate against US citizen children due to the immigration status of their parents.
On August 31 of this year, Judge K. Michael Moore of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida agreed with Wendy and her lawyers and found that the state’s regulations “violate the Equal Protection Clause to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” It is estimated that the ruling will affect upwards of 8,000 students.
Wendy is working and studying, taking a couple of courses at a time Miami Dade College, where she pays non-resident tuition rates over three times that for Florida residents. She says she is fighting not just for herself, but for all students facing the same challenge. “Do you know how many students there are about to graduate from high school who won’t be able to go to college because they have to pay as if they were not from here, being US citizens?” she says. “Getting a college education benefits the state. Let us get an education and contribute our skills to society.”
The State of Florida is considering filing an appeal. Please sign this petition urging Commissioner Gerard Robinson of the Florida State Board of Education and Chancellor Frank T. Brogan of the Florida Board of Governors to accept the judgment of the court and not appeal the decision in Wendy Ruiz, et al. v. Gerard Robinson, et al.