Tancredo plans lawsuit over Metro’s undocumented tuition plan

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Tom Tancredo (Photo: CNN)

Tom Tancredo (Photo: CNN)

DENVER — Colorado’s most zealous opponent of illegal immigration, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, announced Tuesday that his Rocky Mountain Foundation is planning to file the first lawsuit against Metro State University over its proposed lower tuition rate for undocumented students.

In a press release, Tancredo touted last week’s formal opinion from the office of Attorney General John Suthers that Metro State’s vote earlier this month by its Board of Regents was unlawful.

“Administrators and trustees at different state colleges can have honest disagreements about tuition policies but they must obey the law,” Tancredo said in the 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.”

Last week, Metro State President Stephen Jordan met with members of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee and defended the Board’s vote but promised to reconsider the policy again before moving forward.

While the Attorney General’s office believes that lower tuition qualifies as a “public benefit”, something undocumented people are not entitled to under federal law, Metro believes there is case law to defend its own position that, even with the lower tuition rate, undocumented students would still be paying enough to cover the cost of their education — thus, it shouldn’t be defined as a “public benefit”.

The school has already hired attorneys at McKenna,  Long & Aldrich to defend itself in court in anticipation of a legal challenge.

Cathy Lucas, a spokeswoman for President Jordan, said the school would have no comment until the lawsuit is officially filed.

Tancredo told FOX31 Denver it may be as long as month before the suit is officially filed.

In his announcement, Tancredo said his organization is also submitting a request under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) to obtain copies of all memos, emails and other communications between October 1, 2011 and June 7, 2012 between Metro State officials and the state Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Commission on Higher education, and the Colorado Democratic Party.

“There is nothing about this immigration debate that is not political,” Tancredo told FOX31 Denver.