Tancredo still pursuing legal battle against Metro for giving tuition break to undocumented students

Westword’s uber blogger Michael Roberts reported Sept. 19 that Tom Tancredo, a former Republican Congressman from Colorado, had placed ads in Metro State University’s student newspaper seeking plaintiffs for a lawsuit seeking damages resulting from the University’s decision to offer undocumented students a reduced tuition rate, below the out-of-state fee but higher than the rate for Colorado citizens.

Tancredo tells me that some students who are paying out-of-state tuition have replied to the ad, but they’re scared to sign up with Tancredo and sue, like good Americans do.

You might think, it’s Tancredo they’re scared of. But no, according to Tancredo, the students are worried they’ll feel the heat from Metro professors.

Tancredo said: “Problem is, the ones we’ve talked to, they are afraid of the ramifications in the school, whether teachers would treat them unfairly. We’ve got several saying it’s unfair. But they say, I’m scared, what if they do something to me?”

Tancredo plans to continue running his ad through the end of this month, hoping he can find plaintiffs.

His ad reads: “Paying Out of State Tuition? Annoyed you are being ripped off by Metro’s policy allowing a lower rate for noncitizens?”

I asked Tancredo if he tells his potential plaintiffs that Metro teachers will not bite back against them.

“I don’t want to be overly optimistic and say that would never happen,” he said. “It certainly could. I don’t want to lead them astray. They have to make a decision about whether they want to brave that particular outcome.”

Tancredo’s lawsuit, especially because it’s being pushed by one of Colorado’s top Republicans, could be seen by some as a Republican attack on Hispanics who, along with women, are seen as decisive voters in Colorado.

So I asked Tancredo if he’s he waiting until after the election to drop the suit.

“Believe me, I would drop it tomorrow if I had that one plaintiff,” Tancredo replied.

Tancredo fired a question back at me.

“Have you asked the question to Metro?” he asked. “Did they do this to influence the election? I think it’s a distinct possibility.”

Metro didn’t return a call seeking comment, but the University has said in the past that its policy was based on business considerations.

The undocumented students involved say it gives them hope. The Denver Post quoted one such student in August. He told The Post he entered the U.S. in 1999 illegally with his parents.

“It’s really tough; you get frustrated because all we want is the chance to get out of the shadows, to become someone,” said Oscar, 20, a freshman. “We’ve talked about going back, but Mexico is a place we don’t know, and we feel like, ‘We grew up here, we belong here.’ “

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