ACLU fights denial of tuition help to U.S.-born student with immigrant mom

After a New Jersey student aid agency denied grants and loans to a top high school student because of her mother’s immigration status, the ACLU has stepped in and filed suit.

The 17-year-old, who was born in the United States, is a citizen. While she has been accepted at several universities, without financial aid she won’t be able to go to college. The lawsuit says the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority denied her funding because her mother is an undocumented immigrant.

Alex Shalom, an attorney with the ACLU of New Jersey, said the state legislation that created the student aid agency does not instruct it to ask about a parent’s immigration status.

“But the other thing is, even if the Legislature had told them that they could inquire into the parents’ immigration status, the state and federal constitutions prohibit such discrimination,” Shalom said. “Because our Constitution has consistently held that if you are a citizen born here, you are entitled to all the rights and privileges of all the other citizens born here regardless of where your parents were born or who your parents are.”

The lawsuit was filed with N.J. Superior Court. The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Agency would not comment on the lawsuit.

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