Although sanctuary policies are illegal under Federal law, two states (Maine and New Mexico) and a multitude of cities and counties maintain policies that forbid officials from asking about a person's immigration status or informing Federal immigration authorities about the presence of illegal aliens. These sanctuary policies may prevent police from inquiring about a person's immigration status during the course of routine duties, or from stopping or detaining a person solely due to immigration status. They may also prevent state public assistance agencies and institutions of higher education from inquiring about an applicant's immigration status in order to determine eligibility for public benefits. The resulting safe havens make it easier for illegal aliens, including criminal aliens, to live undetected in the United States.
Federal law states “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State… for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit.” (Title 8, Chapter 14, Section 1623)
In a nutshell, that means the state and its public institutions must offer the same aid to all legal U.S. residents regardless of residency.
However, some states currently violate this federal law by giving tuition breaks to illegal aliens and charging American citizens from other states higher tuition fees. In 2001, California and Texas became the first states to enact legislation providing in-state tuition to illegal aliens, with New York and Utah followed suit in 2002. Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and New Mexico have enacted similar legislation since 2003. Sixteen more states have debated similar bills: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Generally require illegal alien students have resided in the state for three years, graduated from a state high school, received notification of acceptance to a public college or university and signed an affidavit stating they will file for legal immigration status.
If you are an out-of-state student attending any public postsecondary school in one of those states and are paying the higher tuition rates, you may be entitled to a refund.
American Students: Demand Financial Equality from States that Offer In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens
Over the years, state and federal courts have made various decisions regarding driver's licenses, in-state tuition, health care, workplace verification and border fences.