Students without papers

Should community colleges educate illegal immigrants? North Carolina’s policy is seesawing wildly.

Last September, the State Board of Community Colleges decided to admit undocumented U.S. high school graduates, if they don’t displace a U.S. citizen and pay out-of-state tuition, about $7,700 a year, compared to the in-state rate of $1,600.

Now community college system President Scott Ralls has told colleges to ban all illegals to follow federal rules, which may not apply. From McClatchy Newspapers:

It comes despite the federal government’s assertion last week that it has no authority over admissions at North Carolina colleges and despite Governor Mike Easley’s request that the colleges remain open to all students.

Ralls said he will continue to seek clarification of federal law regarding the eligibility of illegal immigrants for post-secondary education and that another policy change is possible. Ralls, who became president of the system this month, said this is the fourth time since 2001 that the system has changed its policy on illegal immigrants.

. . . Undocumented students will still be allowed to enrol in non-degree programs, including general equivalency classes, English as a second language courses and classes for high school credit.

Of the 300,000 students enrolled in degree programs at the state’s community colleges, 112 are undocumented; those students will be allowed to remain, the statement from the community colleges said.

Meanwhile,  North Carolina legislators have introduced legislation to adopt a permanent ban, reports The Cleveland County Star.  

“There are many ways they can get an education without the state becoming the abettor of breaking federal law,” Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, said.  He said they can go to a private school or go back to their home country for education.

. . . “Those seats should go to American citizens,” Gaston Rep. Pearl Burris-Floyd said.

What does federal law say?  It depends on whether  community college students who pay out-of-state tution are receiving  a “public benefit,” writes Dr. Jameson Taylor.

State policies vary widely:  Nine states allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges;  South Carolina passed a law last year banning illegals from all public colleges and universities, while Alabama’s two-year system bans illegals.

It’s a tough issue, writes Community College Dean.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 20, 2010

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