Texas Withdraws Discriminatory Attorney General Opinion in the Face of MALDEF Lawsuit

All eligible veterans will now receive Hazlewood tuition exemption

January 16, 2008

SAN ANTONIO, TX – One week after six Gulf War veterans asked a federal court to temporarily halt the State of Texas’s exclusion of certain veterans from receiving college tuition exemptions available under the Hazlewood Act, the Attorney General Greg Abbott withdrew his Opinions restricting the Hazlewood program.

In 2006, following two Opinion Letters from the Attorney General, the State had excluded veterans from receiving the Hazlewood exemption if they were legal permanent resident immigrants, but not yet U.S. citizens, at the time they entered the military. This policy was challenged in June 2007 by MALDEF on behalf of six Gulf War veterans who are now U.S. citizens but were denied the Hazlewood exemption because they were legal residents at the time they entered the military.

Court papers filed by the State yesterday in response to MALDEF’s lawsuit admit that its opinions interpreting the Hazlewood Act to exclude legal permanent resident immigrants, thousands of whom have served in the U.S. military for their adopted country, made the Hazlewood Act unconstitutional.

Today the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board adopted temporary rules to provide that all qualified veterans are eligible for the Hazlewood exemption whether they were U.S. citizens or legal resident immigrants at the time they entered the military.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund