A Denver college's move to establish a special tuition rate for illegal immigrant students has spiraled into a legal fight involving the state's attorney general, and a legislative committee has scheduled a conference Wednesday to discuss the issue.
Metro State President Stephen Jordan said the school's board would "revisit" it's recent decision to lower tuition for undocumented students after the conference, FOX31 KDVR reports.
Jordan did not say whether the policy was likely to be altered or not. According to FOX31 KDVR, after the hour-long meeting Jordan said, "We think it’s really critical to get this right at the front end, which is why we’re going to examine the Attorney General's decision and see what implications it has for us."
The fight between Metropolitan State College of Denver officials and Republican Attorney General John Suthers emerges as President Barack Obama has spotlighted the immigration debate, issuing an order saying certain young illegal immigrants will no longer face deportation.
Metropolitan State College of Denver earlier this month established for illegal immigrants who meet specific requirements a tuition rate that is significantly lower than the nonresident rate.
The move followed a failed legislative attempt from Colorado Democrats that would have established such a tuition tier at schools across the state.
Suthers responded Tuesday, saying Metro State's unilateral decision is "not supported by governing law."
Other Colorado Republicans have criticized the school's move, and Suthers echoed their call, saying the tuition discount amounts to a "public benefit" that illegal immigrants are not entitled to under state and federal laws.
Suthers said the school does not have the authority to set such a rate and added that lawmakers must decide whether to provide such a benefit.
The Joint Budget Committee is scheduled to talk with Metro State about the new rate Wednesday.
The new tuition rate, which Metro State approved June 7, lets certain illegal immigrants attend college at about $3,600 per semester. That's about half what they'd pay under the nonresident rate, but still higher than the resident rate.
To qualify, illegal immigrants must have graduated from a Colorado high school after attending for at least three years and also state that they were seeking, or would seek, legal status.
Colorado Republican lawmakers this year rejected an attempt from Democrats to grant discounted tuition to illegal immigrants who graduated from state high schools. The legislation would've made it optional for colleges to participate, but most higher education institutions supported the bill.
Suthers said colleges cannot act unilaterally on the issue. He issued the opinion at the request of the Colorado Community College System, which asked if colleges could do what Metro State did. CCCS supported this year's legislation.
The Metro State board of trustees said in a statement they did not believe they had disregarded Colorado's law, and that their intent was to "provide access and affordability to all of Colorado's high school students."
Obama said in an announcement last week that the government won't seek to deport illegal immigrants younger than 30 who came to the country before turning 16. They also must have been in the country for at least five continues years, have no criminal records, and have graduated from a U.S. high school or gotten a GED.
Thirteen states, including California and Texas, have crafted and passed tuition legislation for illegal immigrants and they have survived legal challenges.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.