Academic journal article Missouri Law Review

"Show Me" Your Legal Status: A Constitutional Analysis of Missouri's Exclusion of DACA Students from Postsecondary Educational Benefits

Academic journal article Missouri Law Review

"Show Me" Your Legal Status: A Constitutional Analysis of Missouri's Exclusion of DACA Students from Postsecondary Educational Benefits

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

More than 130 years ago, Emma Lazarus penned these legendary words: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ... ." (1) This passage from the poem The New Colossus embodies the Statue oof Liberty's optimistic "welcome" to the world's disenfranchised people. (2) Its meaning gives a sense of hope to the roughly 1.2 million undocumented young people (3) who were given the opportunity to become legally present in the United States through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program. (4) Through the DACA program, undocumented young people can receive a social security number, obtain a work permit, and register for state benefits, such as in-state tuition and state scholarships. (5)

Juan Sanchez, a Kansas resident who emigrated with his family from Mexico at the age of two, is one such undocumented individual granted DACA status. (6) Sanchez graduated with honors from Kansas City Kansas Community College in the spring of 2015. (7) Through the University of Missouri-Kansas City Metro Rate program, (8) Sanchez enrolled in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as an in-state resident. (9) Sanchez worked two jobs to pay for his full-time tuition. (10) However, Missouri's new budget bill swiftly put an end to Sanchez's, and other Missouri DACA recipients', ability to afford a college education.

Missouri passed House Bill 3 ("HB 3") in the spring of 2015, becoming one of two states to exclude DACA recipients from in-state tuition and state scholarship funding. (11) The higher education budget bill declared that public institutions would receive state funding provided that no public institution offered a student with unlawful immigration status less than the international tuition rate, nor expended scholarship money on his or her behalf. (12) Senate Bill 224 ("SB 224"), a proposal requiring that individuals who receive the A+ Scholarship have legal status, was subsequently passed the same year. (13) As DACA students claim lawful presence but not lawful status, they are subject to increased tuition and receive no funding, despite meeting Missouri's residency requirements.

This Note discusses how Missouri's exclusion of in-state tuition and state scholarship funding affects DACA students and concludes the Missouri legislature's proposal violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Part II explores the DACA program and its effects on both DACA individuals and society; it then lays out Missouri law on higher education benefits, both prior to and after the passage of HB 3 and SB 224. Next, Part III details the process used to evaluate equal protection claims based on immigration status. Part IV scrutinizes the legislation under equal protection case law, ultimately concluding in Part V that HB 3 and SB 224 violate the U.S. Constitution and deprive DACA students, such as Sanchez, of their right to equal protection of the law.

II. DACA, MISSOURI, AND THE EFFECTS OF CHANGES IN THE LAW

This Part explores the creation of the DACA program and the impact of lawful presence on both undocumented immigrants and American society. It then discusses Missouri's historically inclusive laws granting education benefits to lawfully present individuals. Finally, this Part lays out the recent changes in Missouri law excluding lawfully present individuals from receiving in-state tuition and state financial aid.

A. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a new executive order deferring deportation actions for undocumented youth who immigrate to the United States. (14) Upon fulfilling governmental requirements to receive DACA status, an applicant to the program becomes legally present for two years. (15) Roughly 1.2 million undocumented young people were eligible for the DACA program in 2012. (16) As of June 30, 2015, the U. …

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