Originally Published in The Hill
Zack Budryk - September 3, 2020
Another judge blocks DeVos from withholding coronavirus relief money from undocumented students
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A Massachusetts judge on Thursday blocked the Department of Education from restricting CARES Act funds to college students who are U.S. citizens.
In guidance issued after the passage of the coronavirus aid measure, DeVos wrote that students must meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid to receive the emergency grants in the package. The rule would exclude both undocumented students and some community college students.
“It’s clear the CARES Act was written to help Americans recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” DeVos said in a statement to The New York Times in June. “U.S. taxpayers have long supported U.S. students pursuing higher education, and this rule simply ensures the continuity of that well-established policy.”
Courts previously blocked the rule in Washington and California.
“[T]he Court is not persuaded by the Secretary’s argument that (CARES Act) funds would constitute ‘Federal public benefits’ from which most non-citizens would be denied eligibility, nor that the Secretary’s election to apply 1611(a)’s restrictions to these funds as an eligibility condition would be lawful,” Chief United States District Judge Thomas Rice wrote in the ruling blocking the rule in Washington.
“Consequently, the Court finds that the Secretary’s argument does not preclude a finding of plaintiffs’ likely success on the merits,” he added.
DeVos’s handling of CARES Act funding is also the subject of an NAACP lawsuit filed in July. In the lawsuit, the NAACP accused DeVos of illegally altering the distribution of the $13.2 billion in school funding in the bill.