California Bill Authorizes Big-Money “Discrimination” Lawsuits By Illegal Aliens Against Colleges
By Shari Rendall | August 24, 2018
There are at least 496 colleges, universities and other postsecondary educational institutions in California, public and private. As the Golden State’s legislature moves towards wrapping up its regular session on August 31, a bill is now close to passing that would open the door to potentially lucrative “discrimination” lawsuits by illegal aliens against all of the state’s higher education institutions.
Senate Bill (SB) 691, titled, “Educational equity: immigration status,” would:
- Add immigration status to the state’s policy against discrimination in postsecondary education;
- Add immigration status to the list of characteristics that a “perception” of which can amount to discrimination in postsecondary education; and
- Add immigration status to the list of prohibited classifications for discrimination “in any program or activity” by any postsecondary educational institution that receives state funds or enrolls students who receive state financial aid.
The practical effect of the bill would be to enable illegal aliens to sue colleges for “discrimination” simply on the basis of being illegal an alien. They could do so even if a college was unaware of their immigration status, on merely a “perception” that they could be illegal. And, with an estimated 2.6 million illegal aliens in California according to a 2017 study by FAIR, the trial attorneys would undoubtedly have no difficulty finding clients willing to sue.
The bill was introduced back on February 17, 2017. It passed the Senate on January 29 of this year by a vote of 30-9, with four Republicans joining all the Democrats to support it. After reaching the Assembly, it didn’t move again until being voted out of that chamber’s Appropriations Committee on June 27. On August 20, the Assembly voted 58-19 to pass the bill as amended into its current form, and returned it to the Senate.
The Senate could now vote on the version passed by the Assembly and send it onto Governor Jerry Brown (D) for signing.
California has no cap on damages in most lawsuits, including for discrimination: the maximum is whatever a jury decides to award. “Non-economic damages” like pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc., are all available, and the state’s own jury instructions say “[n]o fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of these … damages.” In addition, a jury can also award punitive damages upon proof of “oppression, fraud, or malice.” Public colleges have the taxpayers on the hook to varying degrees somewhat protecting them from being sued into oblivion by illegal aliens, but private colleges aren’t that fortunate.
SB 691 has largely remained below the media radar despite a potentially huge price tag. But higher education in America is already expensive. This bill would make it even more so, as well as endangering educational choice by driving smaller and less well-off colleges to close, limit their offerings, or flee the state. All so that illegal aliens and unscrupulous trial attorneys can team up to line their pockets.