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Little known Florida ruling makes a mockery of American citizenship for certain young people

LatinaLista — Here’s a riddle: What do you call someone who was born in the United States to undocumented parents?

Miami Dade College student Wendy Ruiz appears last week at the announcement of a lawsuit challenging Florida's tuition rules for citizen children of undocumented families.(Photo courtesy of Southern Poverty Law Center)

The answer should be “American citizens.” Yet, in Florida, young people born in the Sunshine State of undocumented parents — and have the birth certificates to prove it — are treated by the Florida Department of Education and the Board of Governors as –undocumented.

In a wayward attempt to jump on the bandwagon of punitive anti-immigrant legislation and penalize undocumented immigrants, these two Florida entities enacted a ruling that refuses to recognize the US citizenship of children born of undocumented parents.

As a result, these young people are forced to pay out-of-state tuition though they are entitled to in-state tuition.

It’s an odd scenario and one that shows that these two entities have clearly overstepped their authority when it comes to education and the immigration debate.

When such idiocy occurs, it’s only natural that lawsuits follow. Last week, several South Florida students — all US citizens — joined the Southern Poverty Law Center in filing a class-action lawsuit challenging this discriminating tuition ruling.

If that wasn’t enough, a Florida state lawmaker filed a bill that would grant in-state tuition for children who are US citizens but their parents are not.

The lunacy of such a tuition rule only underscores the small thinking of people who should know better but have been influenced to act irrationally, unfairly and hatefully towards young people who would better serve the aging state of Florida with a decent education than just a low-end job that would contribute little to an economy that is going to need all the help it can get in the future.

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