N.C. community colleges ban illegal immigrants

Community colleges in North Carolina are reconsidering whether to allow illegal immigrants to attend. The community college system made the decision last May to ban them because school officials believed that doing so would be a violation of federal law.

However, the Department of Homeland Security has since decided that it is not a violation of any law for illegal immigrants to be admitted to public educational institutions, as there is currently no such law in place. The decision is therefore left up to the individual states and institutions.

"I think that it should be up to the state to decide whether or not to admit [illegal immigrants] because making this decision means deciding if college is an American right or something that should be open to all people," said junior public policy and management major Lydia Remington.

The ban is currently still in place for the North Carolina community colleges, and is supported by both Democrat and Republican candidates for governor. Despite urging from university presidents within the University of North Carolina system, the ban will not be reversed until further research is conducted, if it is reversed at all. Officials say that this may take several months, as they will need to rewrite their policy if they decide to make a change.

There is some concern among education officials that this measure is unfair for many reasons. According to a July 28 article from the Associated Press, North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges President Scott Ralls believes that the policy should be revised because all children should have the opportunity to continue their educations, regardless of their parents’ decisions and how they came to be in this country.

“[I think] they should have documents [to attend college]. ... It’s sad that they can’t go to college because they don’t have enough money to get their documents,” said first-year computer science major Young Jae Park. Park is from South Korea, where she says there are also problems with illegal immigration.

If the North Carolina community colleges decide to overturn this ban, they will need to create a new policy specifically relating to illegal immigrants. One possible solution is that of the University of North Carolina system, which allows illegal immigrants with limitations. Students must have graduated from a United States high school, must pay out-of-state tuition, and are not able to receive government financial aid, according to the policy.

This is one possible solution of many, and the board does not intend to rush through its research. They want to find the best possible solution to this problem, particularly for the community colleges. Although some opponents of the ban say that the out-of-state tuition cost more than covers the cost of education for the illegal immigrant students, financial interests of the community colleges must also be considered.

In the end, community colleges — and all higher education institutions — want to make the decision they find most beneficial for everyone. The big question, then, is whether admitting illegal immigrants will be the best decision.

“Admitting [illegal immigrants] to these colleges means that after graduation, they will join the American workforce, where they are taking jobs away from Americans,” Remington said. “Yet [they] might be doing things where we need them.”