RALEIGH, N.C. – Earlier this week North Carolina Community College System (NCCS) President Martin Lancaster issued a belated defense of a November 7, 2007, directive that forces community colleges to admit illegal immigrants. Lancaster’s “passionate defense” is both misleading and factually inaccurate. In response, the Civitas Institute, which was responsible for alerting the public to the original NCCS directive, has issued a point-by-point refutation of Lancaster’s claims.
Contrary to Lancaster’s response, the NCCS policy violates federal and state law and is a misinterpretation of a 1997 advisory opinion issued by the North Carolina Attorney General’s office. The policy also mistakenly presumes that illegal immigrant workers are vital to North Carolina’s economy, even as it admits that illegal aliens constitute a burden on the state because they pay less in taxes and use more social services.
In addition, the figures provided by Lancaster regarding the cost to educate out-of-state students are erroneous. Lancaster’s numbers only include full-time students, who make up only one-third of total enrollment. Likewise, they do not include debt service on $850 million in statewide general obligation bonds, as well as debt service on bonds issued by local communities.
“From the very beginning, the Community College System has sought to conceal this change in policy. Now, President Lancaster has issued misleading figures regarding the enrollment numbers and costs of illegal immigration,” stated Civitas senior analyst Dr. Robert Luebke. “Our analysis of the Census data (American Community Survey) suggests that approximately 10,000 non-citizen students (excluding foreign nationals within the UNC system) are currently enrolled in North Carolina’s public higher educational system. It is likely that many of these students are illegal immigrants fraudulently enrolled in community colleges as in-state residents. The cost to educate these students at the in-state tuition annual rate is more than $20 million a year.”
Stated Dr. Luebke: “Forcing taxpayers to subsidize the education of illegal immigrants is wrong. Permitting illegal immigrants to enroll as in-state residents is indefensible. North Carolina can no longer afford to wait on the federal government, but needs to act now to remove the incentives that are encouraging illegals to come to our state.”