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Community colleges to bar immigrants without papers

Posted May 13, 2008
Updated May 14, 2008

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— North Carolina's 58 community colleges will no longer allow illegal immigrants to enroll in degree programs, officials said Tuesday.

The move follows an advisory letter, issued a week ago, in which the state Attorney General's Office recommended that community colleges tighten their admissions standards to be more in line with federal laws.

"We're trying our best to follow the law – a muddy law as it is – but we've looked to legal counsel each time in doing that," Community College System President Scott Ralls said.

The Attorney General's Office has agreed to ask federal officials to clarify rules regarding illegal  immigrants and college enrollment.

“Until we receive further clarification, we will no longer admit individuals classified as illegal or undocumented immigrants into curriculum degree programs,” Ralls said.

The system last fall began admitting any illegal immigrant who was at least 18 years old and a high school graduate.

Gov. Mike Easley said last week that he supported that policy, saying federal law doesn't clearly say when seemingly illegal immigrants can attend community college. No other state prevents illegal immigrants from attending college, he said, and doing so in North Carolina would create an underclass in the state.

"Legally, I think the attorney general's advice is flawed," Easley said. "Everybody wants to make sure that immigrants are learning English. If you cut off their ability to go to the Community College System, then how are they going to learn the language?"

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also said last week that federal law didn't preclude colleges from admitting illegal immigrants.

Of the nearly 300,000 curriculum students in community colleges statewide, 112 are illegal, according to the latest state figures. Twenty-seven of the 200,000 students in the University of North Carolina system are apparently illegal.

All of the illegal immigrants pay out-of-state tuition at both UNC and community college campuses.

Community college officials said illegal immigrants who are already enrolled would be allowed to finish their studies and earn degrees. The decision also doesn't affect illegal immigrants in K-12 or GED programs.

"It's difficult for our entire system, not just me. I think the whiplash is very difficult for us. This is the fourth position we've held since 2001," Ralls said.

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  • rargos May 14, 2008

    As an American, I attended college in Europe and you have no idea the kinds of hoops I had to jump through to get admitted (including being fingerprinted, having to provide proof of income, a medical exam including chest X-ray, etc.) and I was a LEGAL resident. If Easley had his way, you wouldn't even need a driver's license in NC.

  • Jake Wildstar May 14, 2008

    1 of the so called originals. It's not about them getting an education, it's about them getting an education HERE. Why cant they get the same education in their own country? Like I said before, if it's so bad where they come from and they want a better life for their family, then they need to pick up a rifle and do what Americans did 200 years ago. Not run away from the problem, make a living here when they have no desire to assimilate and become Americans, then take the money back to whatever country it is that they left in the first place. Why can you not see the wrong in that?

  • OrdinaryCitizen May 14, 2008

    I think Community Colleges should be free to all.
    Lets build this Nation to be smarter and not materialistic.

  • 1 of the original Americans May 14, 2008

    wow ... ywal really are scared of an educated Hispanic! I can't wait ok so Mom and Dad cant go to college but guess what their children can... and I cant wait till the day that some of you will have a Hispanic Manager!!!!!

  • atozca May 14, 2008

    "No other state prevents illegal immigrants from attending college, he said, and doing so in North Carolina would create an underclass in the state."

    What part of illegal does Easley not understand. So does that mean when I break the law we should just ignore my crime?

    "'Legally, I think the attorney general's advice is flawed,' Easley said. 'Everybody wants to make sure that immigrants are learning English. If you cut off their ability to go to the Community College System, then how are they going to learn the language?'"

    What? Who cares if illegals learn the language? I want them to go home where they belong. If they want to be legal immigrants then they can learn the English language as reguired and enter the country legally.... it is not our problem!

  • ANGEL+3 May 14, 2008

    Easley is sooooooooo not smart....
    Is he another I smoked but didn't inhale???? He needs to sit down and huss. It's about time someone stood up to these people and said NO MORE........

  • enigma1469 May 14, 2008

    A small step in the right direction

  • NC is my home May 14, 2008

    They should turn the applications over to the immigration services so that they can be deported. I'm tired of paying for everybody else to get a break when I need one!

  • cbarnett May 14, 2008

    I don't think english is a college course

  • They call me CATMAN May 14, 2008

    It is bad nough that they are coming here taking jobs but now The Gov want's us to train the Illegals to take jobs with a higher skill set. Gov E what ever happened to the NC person who pays taxs and makes this state work everyday. who are you looking out for AMIGO

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