NC: First to Give Education, First to Take it Away?

In 1795, the great state of North Carolina opened the first public institution of higher learning.

In 2008, we may become the first state to take away access to post-secondary education from an entire class of people.

Yesterday, Attorney General Roy Cooper's office issued an advisory statement that says our state's community colleges and universities should close their doors to the children of undocumented immigrants.

It was just last November that the NC Community College System changed its admissions policy, to allow any qualified applicant to enroll in their institutions. Non-residents would have to pay out of state tuition. This new policy brought the community college admissions policy into alignment with a policy the UNC system implemented in 2004.

Soon thereafter, the backlash again with the Pope Civitas Institute in the middle of it. I documented some of that in a previous post here.

Immigration and public education advocates had already been preparing to fight bills that were to be introduced in the coming short session of the General Assembly. As Sen. Richard Stevens (R-Cary) admitted to the N&O today, Republicans were preparing to introduce bills that would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from attending public institutions of higher learning. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have said that they did not think there was political will in either chamber to prevent such bills from proceeding.

In the midst of an election year, all of our political leaders are running for cover whenever the issue of immigration comes up. One of our gubernatorial candidates told me "This is a difficult policy issue." I call BS. This is an easy policy issue. It's a difficult political issue.

It's short sighted and immoral to withhold access to education. We're on the brink of becoming a state that sets a horrible precedent for human and civil rights. Do we really want to be the first state to withhold a public education from a group of people because of their status?

The AG's statement is based on the same kind of moral reasoning that southern states used to withhold public education from blacks and women. It uses a tenuous interpretation of federal law to exercise a state's rights argument, knowing full well that this state will not give undocumented immigrants the right to an education.

In fact, the Federal Statute that the opinion rests upon has already been ruled upon by the Federal District Court out of Virginia. That court said that the statue applied to grants, in-state tuition and other funding mechanisms are of state and local benefit. Admission is not. Admission is just admission and not a particular benefit per se. Therefore, giving admission is not in violation of the Federal statute. Which is exactly why no other state has taken this draconian step.

It's time to call upon members of the General Assembly to take a strong stance in favor of an educated populace. Federal immigration reform will happen eventually. When it does, thousands of children and young people in North Carolina will have the opportunity to apply for citizenship. Do we want them to be educated contributors to our great state or part of a permanent uneducated underclass?

I choose education every time.



Thanks Graig.

This smack of the machine at work. Somebody leaned on somebody leaned on somebody in order to shift the political heat away from somebody.

I thought Cooper had better judgment than this.

I was shocked to see this piss poor

decision come from the AGs office. Shocked. It's disgraceful for NC to take this position. Disgraceful!!!

This must be the same AGs office that used to place liens and take away the homes of indigent people who couldn't pay their UNC hospital bills fast enough ... until the Ansley's called them out and held a bright spot light on that draconian practice.

P.S. Thanks for this post Graig. Tune up the choir!!

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

This is a kick in the teeth.

We accept children into public pre-K programs, public school, and allow them to access to all of the tools and programs that every other child in the US has access to in the public school programs.

Then we tell them they can't go to community college? Even if they're willing to pay?

So I guess those campaign promises of "free community college for every child" that flowed so freely from the lips of Democratic candidates was just so much manipulative, emotionally exploitative regurgitant.

Most of the children who are "undocumented" had no choice about coming here - and could not be sent back to the country of their birth to navigate the system. Many of them don't speak Spanish; their parents do. They didn't have a choice in where they lived when they were little anymore than you or I did. They should not be punished. The federal government needs to get its act together to give them a path to citizenship, and education/public service seems like a much better way than shutting them out of the system and keeping them in a second-class, shadow society.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

We punish ourselves

when we punish them. How does anyone benefit when the talents and abilities of any class of kids are turned away from our college doors? Why wouldn't anyone want to provide them the tools to succeed and contribute and pay taxes legally?

In my opinion, we should be offering fast track citizenship to undocumented kids who play by the rules and graduate from college with marketable skills. This policy advice is crazy. It's built on jealousy and fear, nothing more.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."


Why punish them for the choice their parents made? Give them a chance, for goodness sake. Give them their piece of the American Dream.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Gov. Easley weighs in

“The federal law is not settled in this area and I am requesting the Attorney General seek clarification from Washington regarding eligibility of admission to community colleges.  The legislature specifically provided the Community College 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.  The Attorney General’s advisory letter acknowledges the federal government has not prohibited this policy under 8USCS sec.1621.”

Easley isn't running again.

Cooper -- well he's going to be running again all right.

He wanted an appointment

I think he was stumping like mad for Hillary because he wanted to be the next Sec. of Education.

But I don't think it's gonna work.

I've got a feeling you're right.

Ah well, the best laid plans of Mice and Men often go astray. Or something like that.

I'm glad he directed Cooper to look for more direction on this. It's not right to turn students out onto the streets. Disenfranchised youth become statistics.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors


But in the meantime, Easley has told the Community Colleges to continue serving this group of students, has he not? Maybe we won't get a ruling until there's a democratic administration.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

well, I dunno

Cooper's office took a while to issue its opinion, didn't it? And it came out when, the day after the primary here?

I think Bush's Dept. of Justice will be very judicious about their timing, too.

You know where McCrory stands

The more I learn about that guy, the creepier he is.

Perdue has to walk a line on this, which is going to be hard. A simplistic sound bite answer becomes red meat for the rabid right. the rabid right can only win in November through blood lust. That is what they are gearing up for.


PS Why after? Maybe to avoid injecting it into the race at the 11th hour? Maybe he got leaned on? I don't know, but it's a sure bet the timing wasn't accidental.

McCrory. Bah.

Yeah - he kind of gives me the creeps, too, James. I've just started reading up on him. This is where we need the Mike Huckabees of the GOP world - he didn't want to turn children away. I will never forget that moment in the gooper debate. I guess they don't like nice.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

McCrory and Rumsfeld

Ever notice how much McCrory looks like a young Donald Rumsfeld?

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Not at all sure, but

it at least prevented the issue from being raised during the primary (though I'm pretty sure Perdue and Moore are on the same page). That is, anyone could answer with, "we're still awaiting an opinion from the AG's office."

And now it's here.

I don't like it, and I keep reading it over and over

wishing I had gone to law school so I could find a way to take this to court myself. I think I see loop holes in it big enough to drive a school-bus through, but I'm not an attorney, I only play one in my dreams.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

The timing was not coincidental

It came after the election for the reasons suggested above. I think it was also key to get it out before the GA's short session. Perhaps the leadership wanted Cooper to rule so that they could take the issue off their docket? They really don't want to deal with it in an election year.

There are plenty of attorneys working on this. I've already seen two of their opinions about why the AG is wrong. They'll be public soon enough.

It does get Roy Cooper ahead of the GA

But I doubt the opinion would forestall GOPers from introducing legislation and taking what credit they can get for doing so.

Of course, there are supposed to be limits on what can be introduced in the short session, but those rules are easy to get around.

Guilford Co. passed a resolution in support of higher education

which originated at the December PDNC meeting:

WHEREAS, the North Carolina Democratic Party’s platform affirms our commitment to “…full and equal protection of the lives, liberties, rights, and properties of all citizens and residents of North Carolina and to striving for educational excellence for all persons - regardless of their race, age, gender, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, developmental disability, primary language, location, or station in life; “ and
WHEREAS, the failure of Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform has left tens of thousands of undocumented North Carolinian school children in legal limbo without the possibility to further their education beyond high school and, therefore, significantly reducing their opportunities to contribute to the fullness of their potential to the communities they call home; and
WHEREAS, immigrant students who came here as young children were educated in our school system; were steeped in our culture and values and consider themselves Americans; will most likely never return to their countries of origin, either voluntarily or involuntarily; and will be an important part of North Carolina’s communities and workforce for decades to come; and
WHEREAS, for North Carolina to remain competitive in a globalized economy it must nurture a knowledge-based workforce that has access to the education and training necessary to adapt to a constantly changing world economy;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the ____ precinct of the ______County Democratic Party hereby fully supports the NC Community College System’s Admission Policy for undocumented immigrants that gives deserving young immigrant students the same opportunities to go to college as their American classmates; and
IN ADDITION, the ____ precinct of the ______County Democratic Party urges the NC Community College System and the University of NC System as well as North Carolina legislators to make in-state tuition available to immigrant students who have graduated from our high schools and fulfill North Carolina residence requirements since they are clearly an asset to our communities.

It will go on to our District Convention.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

I don't think so Linda. Resolutions have to start at the

precinct level. They can be considered at a state convention if 2/3 of the delegates vote to allowed it. That happened in 2006 when a slate of progressive resolutions were presented.

In the past 5 years I cannot think of a single resolution that originated at the 13th district convention which was passed on to the state convention.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Feds: College OK for Illegal Immigrants

Thank heavens for someone with sense within the Bush administration.
From the N&O.

No federal law prohibits North Carolina from admitting illegal immigrants to its colleges and universities, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said today.
The statement from federal officials contradicts a letter sent this week by the office of state Attorney General Roy Cooper.
The letter from Cooper's office advised the state Community College System that federal law bars the admission of illegal immigrants to public colleges and universities, even if they pay out-of-state tuition.
The letter said that the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part, was responsible for enforcing the law and offered to ask the department for further clarification of the law.
The department provided that clarification today, at the request of The News & Observer.
"It is left for the school to decide whether or not to enroll" illegal immigrants, the statement reads. "The Department of Homeland Security does not require any school to determine a student's status."
Cooper's office issued its advisory letter six months after the Community College System instituted a controversial new policy requiring admission of all students, regardless of their immigration status, at all of its 58 campuses.

Graig, that is wonderful

That's great coverage. You're doing important work.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.