State News

Supporters overwhelm opponents at hearing on illegal immigrants in colleges

Posted December 18, 2009

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— A packed public hearing Friday morning on a new policy to admit illegal immigrants at North Carolina community colleges spawned controversy, with policy opponents claiming the hearing was rigged in favor of supporters.

The board that governs North Carolina's 58 two-year colleges voted in September to allow illegal immigrants to enroll if they graduated from a U.S. high school and paid out-of-state rates of about $7,000 a year. Under the policy, lawful U.S. residents would have priority to crowded classrooms.

Friday's public hearing was part of the legal process the North Carolina Community College System must follow to change the admissions rules. The system's board will consider the comments in its vote next April on final approval of the rule change.

People were allowed to sign up to speak at the hearing at 9 a.m., but opponents said policy supporters were allowed to sign up early to stack the hearing in their favor.

"Illegal immigrant supporters have been given preferential treatment," said William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. "Their side of the debate had some kind of insider knowledge that they'd be able to sign up at 8 (a.m.)"

Protest against allowing illegal immigrants at community colleges Immigrant enrollment policy draws crowd

Linda Weiner, a spokeswoman for the community college system, said people were waiting outside the State Archives Building in the cold Friday morning, so officials decided to let them inside early.

"Whenever the sign-up started, that first person would have been the same first person, whether it was at 8:30 or whether it was at 9 o'clock," Weiner said.

Fifty-one of 57 people who spoke at the public hearing were in favor of the new policy, saying everyone deserves equal access to education. They said it would be unfair to deprive students whose parents brought them to the U.S. of a college education.

"We can change this. We can open the door," retired teacher Judy Page said.

"We share the hope that education can make a difference in our lives, for our families," said Ron Bilbao, a member of the North Carolina Coalition for College Access, a group that wants to make higher education available to more people.

Gheen and other opponents said the students shouldn't even be in the country, and it doesn't make sense to provide them with an education when they can't legally get a job here.

"How is it fair to admit those who are undocumented to those who are documented?" Jack Alphin said.

Comments from supporters brought applause from the audience of about 200 people at the State Archives Building, while those from opponents were met by silence. Some supporters even said the policy change doesn't go far enough.

"(We need) in-state tuition and unrestricted access to all North Carolina residents," Justin Flores said. "I hope they do it soon."


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  • lorivalentine1 Dec 18, 2009

    So if one of the main point of the supporters is that these kids are brought here and educated in the public schools (for free).. Why are we not stopping it there and not allow that top happen in the first place. At that point we know they are here illegally and we should be sending them packing...The entire family that is!

  • gman007 Dec 18, 2009

    I don't know, but if 51 of 57 was in favor of the illegals, and if pretty much 'everyone' cheered the 51 and no one cheered the other 6, I'd say there is a really really good chance that this thing was fixed, rigged, whatever. Especially if what I've read here today is any indication of the NC population.

  • gandalla Dec 18, 2009

    I wonder if the people crying about this releasize that the majority of them live in sancutuary cities where local goverment officals are not allowed to aide in the identification of undocumented alliens. You people are a little late to start complianing now, our people are already here and taking over. Just ask any person who was not hired to work at McDonalds because they didnt speak Spanish. Now with our people getting educated in droves we will start taking over the white collar jobs.

  • colliedave Dec 18, 2009

    Could it be supporters had to work and could not attend? If supporters of the current program was so massive why did they lose the election by a massive amount?

  • 3potato4 Dec 18, 2009

    "Supporters overwhelm opponents at hearing on illegal immigrants in colleges"

    I find it interesting that that sentiment isn't mirrored on these message boards. I wonder why that is.

  • Tax Man Dec 18, 2009

    Give the prospective student six months to get a valid immigration student visa - if they can obtain that then they should be able to attend classes and the out of state rate. If they do not get the student visa within the time period unenroll them, delete any credits earned and have ICE deport them! They need to do it LEGALLY - get the Student Visa like everyone else is required to do! And how did they graduate from an American High School if they were criminals then? High Schools should require proof of citizenship or legal residence in order to graduate a student! Do illegal alien kids in our public schools have to pay tuition and for their books? They should not be paid for by the taxpayers unless they are here legally - just get legal!

  • peetk58 Dec 18, 2009

    If we can identify the illegals wanting to enroll in our taxpayer supported community colleges, why can't we then require them to take the United States Citizenship Test. They would no longer be illegal. If they refuse to test, then deportation should happen.
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  • Chapel Hill Conservative Dec 18, 2009

    Let's say we educate every illegal alien in NC. What's the next step for them?

    They'll either (finally) obey the law and seek employment in (and move to) another country or they'll seek employment in our local communities by using illegal means (fake/ illegal id's).

    By saying you support educating these illegal aliens in our schools, you're saying you want them to leave our country upon their graduation, or you're saying you're condoning them breaking the law. Which is it?

  • 6079 SMITH W Dec 18, 2009

    ....And that attitude is EXACTLY why the tolerance level has dropped in the last few years, gandalla-san.

  • Chapel Hill Conservative Dec 18, 2009

    It is illegal for an employer in NC to knowingly hire:

    a) an educated illegal alien;
    b) an uneducated illegal alien;
    c) both of the above