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Undocumented Students To Be Denied Admission To N.C. Community Colleges

Upon the advice of the state attorney general’s office, the North Carolina Community College system will no longer admit undocumented students into degree-granting programs.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper advised the 58-campus system to revert to a directive, issued in December 2001, which barred undocumented immigrants from working toward a degree.

“We asked the Attorney General’s Office for clarification of our present policy and will abide by their advice,” said system President R. Scott Ralls in an official statement. “Until we receive further clarification, we will no longer admit individuals classified as illegal or undocumented immigrants to curriculum degree programs.”

Last year, the system announced it would enroll undocumented immigrants who are 18 years old and high school graduates, adopting a 2004 state policy that left the admissions decision to individual campuses. The measure was supported by North Carolina Gov Mike Easley, a Democrat. Easley, however, has no direct authority over the nation’s third-largest community college system, which has roughly 800,000 students.

Later, the N.C. Community College System asked Cooper for guidance on whether the admissions policy was legal under federal law. Last week, Cooper’s office suggested the system drop the admissions policy, although there is no law prohibiting the state from educating undocumented immigrants at public colleges and universities.

In regards to a request from The News & Observer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in an official statement, “The Department of Homeland Security does not require any school to determine a student’s status.”

The system’s new policy will not affect high school students taking any community college classes, or adults in non-college level courses. The community college system estimates that just 112 out of more than 297,000 degree-seeking students are undocumented. Those students will be allowed to complete their degree programs, but at out-of-state tuition rates.

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