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Lawsuit says U of M uses residency requirements to "discriminate" against immigrant students

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

 A civil rights group says the University of Michigan is discriminating against students from immigrant families.

The Arab American Civil Rights League has filed a class action federal lawsuit against the school.

It claims the university wrongly classifies some students from immigrant backgrounds as out-of-state residents.

Plaintiff Hussein Berry says he’s lived in Dearborn since his family emigrated to Michigan in 2006—but he’s been classified as a non-resident because his parents frequently go overseas.

“The University of Michigan is being very unjust by charging me out-of-state tuition,” says Berry. “My only home address is here in Michigan. And that’s where I plan on working, living, and starting my family.”

The University of Michigan cites a variety of “out-of-state activities or ties”as grounds to deny residency.

But the lawsuit says that criteria is being “unjustly used” against immigrant students with strong family ties outside the US.

Attorney Nabih Ayad calls that “unethical, deplorable, and unconstitutional.”

“That simply excludes so many of the immigrants in this community…basically to the profit of the University of Michigan,” Ayad says.

So far, Berry is the only plaintiff in the case. But Ayad says attorneys have filed a class action suit because there are other students with similar stories in Michigan’s immigrant communities.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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