DENVER—Add Tom Tancredo to the list of those outraged over Metro State’s decision to grant tuition breaks to illegal aliens.
The outspoken former Colorado congressman announced Tuesday that the Rocky Mountain Foundation plans to file a lawsuit challenging Metropolitan State University of Denver’s decision to grant discounted tuition rates to students living in the United States illegally.
Tancredo, who serves as the foundation’s president, is best known for his opposition to illegal immigration.
“Administrators and trustees at different state colleges can have honest disagreements about tuition policies but they must obey the law,” Tancredo said in a press release. “Metro State must wait for the General Assembly to change the law, and if the law is not changed, they can’t make new laws by themselves.”
He cited last week’s opinion by Attorney General John Suthers, who said that the Metro State board of trustees overstepped its authority by adding a special rate for illegal immigrants. Suthers said such a benefit may only be created by the state legislature, which has in recent years defeated a half-dozen bills to grant tuition breaks to illegal aliens who graduate from Colorado high schools.
At the same time, Suthers noted that his opinion was non-binding.
Metro State President Stephen Jordan defended the board’s move in a meeting with the legislative Joint Budget Committee, but also said he would take the opinion into consideration. The Metro board issued a statement earlier challenging Suthers’ opinion, pointing out that the board may set tuition rates for out-of-state students without the legislature’s approval as long as they receive no state subsidy.
Tancredo said the foundation will file a request under the Colorado Open Records Act for copies of all memos, emails and other communications between Metro officials and the state Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and the Colorado Democratic Party, for the period between Oct. 1, 2011, and June 7, 2012.
Metro State plans to charge full-time illegal alien students $3,358.30 per semester, which is 150% of the in-state full-time tuition rate of $2,152.20. The tuition rate for out-of-state students who are legal U.S. citizens and foreign students with valid visas is $7,992.60 per semester.
In a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, Republican legislators predicted that legislation would be introduced to block the Metro State decision in the 2013 session.
“You will not be surprised that several state legislators have already begun drafting new legislation to overturn the Metro State action and reaffirm legislative authority over tuition classifications,” said the June 13 letter signed by 10 Republicans.