As Texas continues offering discounted in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, a federal judge calls the policy “a flagrant violation of federal law.”

For more than 20 years, illegal aliens living in Texas have been allowed to attend public universities and pay “in-state tuition,” a discounted rate otherwise reserved for Texas citizens.

The benefit has been criticized for being a magnet that attracts illegal aliens to the state at the expense of American citizens.

A recent poll of Republican voters in Texas found that 75 percent said they would support eliminating in-state tuition for illegal aliens, while the Republican Party of Texas’ platform also calls for an end to the practice. 

The policy was challenged in a lawsuit led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation against the University of North Texas on behalf of Young Conservatives of Texas. TPPF’s lawsuit was centered on the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. That law states that an illegal alien living in the United States is not entitled to any post-secondary benefit unless a citizen of the United States is eligible for the same benefit.

While a federal judge overturned UNT’s in-state tuition policy last year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision last month. This week, the Court voted 15-1 not to reconsider their ruling. Judge James Ho, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, was the sole vote against.

In his dissent, Ho stated he believed that Texas’ in-state tuition law violated federal law and attracted more illegal immigration.

“Our national objectives are undercut when states encourage illegal entry into the United States,” said Ho. 

“Put simply, states can’t treat illegal aliens better than they treat U.S. citizens. Yet that’s undeniably what Texas law does,” he added.

Cary Cheshire, the executive director of Texans for Strong Borders, agreed.

“Judge Ho is absolutely right. Giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens is a blatant violation of federal law and only serves to encourage illegal aliens to come to Texas,” said Cheshire. “Treating American citizens worse than illegal aliens is the entire opposite of America First.”

While legislation was filed during the most recent legislative session in the Texas House to end the decades-long practice, it received no traction. In the Senate, not a single bill was filed to do away with discounted tuition for illegal aliens. 

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens