Thursday, May 8, 2008
Inside Higher Ed reports (see also Chronicle of Higher Education) that the North Carolina Community College System set off a firestorm in November when it issued a directive indicating that all 58 colleges must begin admitting undocumented students under the open admissions policy. But the state attorney general’s office has now called for reversing course. The office sent out an advisory letter Tuesday (Download 5608_community_college_letter_kelly.pdf ) suggesting a return to an earlier system policy, propagated in 2001, which limited enrollment of undocumented immigrants on the basis that federal law restricts their eligibility for most state and local public benefits. In the letter from the attorney general’s office, JB Kelly argues that without a state law explicitly listing post secondary education as an eligible benefit for undocumented immigrants, or guidance from the Department of Homeland Security, the 2001 policy limiting their enrollment “would more likely withstand judicial scrutiny.”
For Professor Michael Olivas' response to the North Carolina AG's letter, Download jb_kelly_state_of_north_carolina_shante_martin.pdf
Postscript The day after the state attorney general’s office advised North Carolina community colleges to drop their policy of admitting undocumented immigrants, the state’s governor is urging colleges to continue admitting immigrants. Gov. Michael F. Easley, a Democrat, said in a written statement today that federal law on the issue was not settled. He added that he was asking the attorney general to seek clarification from Washington on whether undocumenred immigrants were eligible to attend community colleges.
By the end of the week, the press reported that no federal law prohibits North Carolina from admitting illegal immigrants to its colleges and universities, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The statement from federal officials contradicts a letter sent this week by the North Carolina Attorney General office.