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D.C. Government Sued by Student Denied Grant for Immigration Status

Updated on March 10, 2017

D.C. Government Sued by Student Denied Grant for Immigration Status

The District of Columbia government is being sued by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund on a complaint by a U.S. citizen who claims she was denied college financial aid because of her mother’s immigration status.

The mother of Natalia Villalobos, who was born and raised in the District of Columbia, has Temporary Protected Status as a resident of the United States.

Twice she applied to the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program for up to $10,000 in grants to help her pay college expenses.

She says her applications were denied because her mother is a native of El Salvador who has lived in the United States for 20 years. She left El Salvador permanently after an earthquake ravaged her home.

The U.S. government grants Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to foreigners forced to become refugees through environmental disasters, war or other conditions beyond their control.

Attorneys for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) say Villalobos should qualify for $2,500 a year in DCTAG grants to pay her $4,000 per year in college costs.

Their lawsuit in U.S. District Court accuses the D.C. government of violating Villalobos’ 14th Amendment rights to equal protection and due process because dependent students’ guardians must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to receive the grants.

The 19-year-old Villalobos planned to attend Montgomery College in Maryland but was forced to put her higher education plans on hold because of the high cost. She wants to study business management and child care so she can open a child care center.

She received a letter from DCTAG in June 2015 that denied her grant application because her “parent is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident,” the lawsuit says. A DCTAG official later informed her, Applicant will never be eligible for DCTAG.

In addition to the constitutional issue, the lawsuit says the D.C. Code does not include a requirement that the parents of DCTAG applicants must be U.S. citizens or residents.

D.C. Government Sued by Student Denied Grant for Immigration Status

D.C. Government Sued by Student Denied Grant for Immigration Status
D.C. Government Sued by Student Denied Grant for Immigration Status

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