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Georgia Supreme Court Says 'No' to In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected an appeal that would let undocumented immigrants pay lower in-state tuition fees at the state's public colleges and universities.

There were 39 plaintiffs, all from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program set-up by the Obama administration. The program allows immigrants who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children avert deportation and are granted work permits, so long as they do not have felony convictions and are enrolled in school. The plaintiffs wanted in-state tuition rates even though they are not citizens.

Judge Harold Melton wrote in his ruling, “Our decision today does not mean that citizens aggrieved by the unlawful conduct of public officers are without recourse. It means only that they must seek relief against such officers in their individual capacities.”

The plaintiff’s attorney, Charles Kuck, said “Why are we depriving them of an education? Why are they (being deprived) of the ability to make more money to pay higher taxes in the state of Georgia? This literally makes no sense. And there is nobody at the Board of Regents who can tell you how this makes any sense.”

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates is significant. The University of Georgia at Perimeter charges $1,363 to a full-time student who resides in Georgia. An out-of-state student pays $5,160 to attend the college full-time.

A statement from the board of regents said, “Our policy was adopted several years ago to mirror a new state law. [That law required public colleges and universities] to ensure that only students who could demonstrate lawful presence were eligible for certain benefits, including in-state tuition. That law remains in effect, and, therefore, so will our policy.”

Other states denying in-state tuition rates to unauthorized immigrants are: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, and South Carolina. Plaintiff, Ivan Morales 21, who works as a soccer coach and waits tables to pay his tuition, said “We are not going to stop fighting. We are going to keep going with this legal battle.”

Photo: Red And Black

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