“Absent some action on the federal level – namely passage of the DREAM Act or comprehensive immigration reform – we will see skirmishes like this one in states ... and towns across the US," says Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the law school at the University of California, Davis. He cites Arizona’s immigration law, Oklahoma’s immigration law, and initiatives in Hazleton, Pa., and Farmer’s Branch, Texas, as examples of places where immigration is already a hot legal topic.
The state funding involved in sending non-citizen residents to school could bring the issue to ballots across the country, adds Steve Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-immigration think tank that seeks lower immigration numbers.
“The bigger question to me is whether other states will come under increasing pressure to do something about this issue politically given the enormous problems they are having with their own budgets,” he says. "It’s the kind of issue that most voters don’t think makes sense when states are struggling to pay for higher education.”
Noting that California has 25,000 undocumented immigrants in its higher education system, he says, “do you really want to be spending hundreds of millions on those who are not even supposed to be in the country?”