State News

Easley: Community colleges should admit illegal immigrants

Posted May 8, 2008
Updated May 9, 2008

— Gov. Mike Easley said Thursday the state's community colleges should stick to a policy of admitting all eligible illegal immigrants.

Easley's suggestion came one day after the state Attorney General's Office called on colleges to drop the lenient admissions policy.

J.B. Kelly, general counsel for the Attorney General's Office, said the community college system should follow federal law more closely and admit immigrants in narrow circumstances. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hadn't signed off on more lenient admission standards, he said, so following federal rules "would more likely withstand judicial scrutiny," he wrote in a letter to officials of the 58-campus community college system.

Last November, the community colleges' attorney decided that the schools must admit illegal immigrants as long as they were 18 years old and high school graduates. That ruling updated a 2004 rule that left the decision up to individual campuses.

Easley said Thursday that federal law doesn't clearly outline when illegal immigrants can attend community college. He asked Attorney General Roy Cooper to seek clarification from Washington.

"The legislature specifically provided the Community College (System) board the authority to establish admission criteria. In the absence of federal action to the contrary, the Community College board should continue its current policy, which is consistent with other states," Easley said in a statement.

Cooper's office said this week it could send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security on the system's behalf.

Kelly's letter has gained political traction among lawmakers who want the state to take a tougher stance against illegal immigrants.

"You should not be providing that sort of benefit to people who are admittedly illegally in this country," House Minority Leader Phil Berger said.

The Rockingham County Republican and other lawmakers said they would push for legislation barring admission to community colleges to illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, Latino advocates were angry about the prospect of banning illegal immigrants from state colleges.

"It makes no sense whatsoever. You're going to have less people to fill needed jobs. Plus, those who are educated are less likely to be involved in crime," said Tony Asion, executive director of El Pueblo, a nonprofit advocacy group for Hispanics.

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

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

Community college leaders, who were expected to release their decision Friday on how to proceed, said they need more time to formulate a response. Educators said that, whatever happens, they feel current students should be allowed to complete their education.

Wake Technical Community College President Stephen Scott said he supports educating all students – five of Wake Tech's 18,000 students are known to be illegal immigrants – but said he wants more than anything else consistent rules to follow.

"We would just like a consistent set of rules. Whatever they are, we'll abide by them," Scott said. "Wake Tech is in the business of educating people. I believe we ought to educate the people who want to attend Wake Tech."

North Carolina's community college system is the third largest in the country. About 800,000 students attend the system's 58 schools.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • steelslinger512 May 13, 2008

    Perdue just lost my vote.. Thanks guvna you made the choice so easy.. North Carolina will be glad to see you go..

  • steelslinger512 May 13, 2008

    I will be so glad when this clown is out office and back in the circus....

  • weneed2pray May 9, 2008

    I am so happy his term is almost over.... First he supports Hilary Clinton now this!!!!

    It angers me... We pay taxes for illegal people who are a burden on our society.....and people like him support it!

  • GodBless May 9, 2008

    HEY!!! I'd like to go, too...But I can't afford it because of all the taxes I have to pay. And I was BORN here!!!

  • 3forme May 9, 2008

    illegal.....the key means there is law being broken by them just being here and now we are going to reward them with this...i hope Easley runs for some political office again so i can join in the protest against him....just can't believe that the electorate in this state haven't shown this guy the door before..can you leave now Governor before you mess up something else..

  • doodad May 9, 2008

    ifcdirector, according to Bob Orr's argument for suing the federal government; the federal government is not REQUIRED to provide social benefits/services to illegal immigrants BUT the federal government does REQUIRE that individual states do so.

  • LaVaism May 9, 2008

    SeanKelly: is where I got the information. "Criminal aliens—non-citizens who commit crimes"
    If your here illegally (not a legal citizen) So the number is correct. Illegal aliens are not just Mexican, we need to remeber that.

  • infinity555 May 9, 2008

    Our government is already skimming $345 billion dollars a year to pay for illegal immigration support. That doesn't include the massive cost of kindergarden to k-12, health care and the overflowing prison system. Now you can read the disturbing details in the new 70-page document called “The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration” by Edwin S. Rubenstein (
    The special interest lobby has corrupted our politicians, but then thats nothing new? Even our Governors, Mayors, city managers and their thrall, intentionally ignored 80 percent of the American people to push illegal foreign nationals agenda. We have seen how these corrup entities work last March to impliment a Comprehensive reform immigration bill. Lawmakers who have imported and exported our jobs, to third worlds counties. They have been tainted by the globalist open-border, free market agenda, to obstruct any anti-illegal immigration laws. Details at NUMBERSUSA.

  • justthinkaboutit May 9, 2008

    I agree with Easley! Everybody deserves education! So why push these kids away when most were brought here by their parents - they did not come here on their own - I think they deserve a good education if the choose to earn one!

  • ifcdirector May 9, 2008

    Every single person posting on this board needs to call or write their legislative representative today and do two things. First demand that Governor Mike Easley be impeached for encouraging and protecting criminal activity. Second demand that our legislators stop all educational, medical, and welfare benefits to illegal aliens immediately. How would they do that? Every participant would have their citizenship checked against an existing federal database. Not a citizen? You don't get taxpayer funded benefits in this country. Go back to the one you broke into this country from. Call the legislative switchboard at 919-733-7928 or find your rep online and write to them at Only when the people rise up and reject this criminality on the part of our elected officials and demand action will anything happen. We elect and pay them to serve us... not illegals.