General Assembly Needs to Clarify Law
During the last 7 years, NCCCS has changed its position on enrolling illegal aliens four times. The most recent decision to cease enrolling illegal aliens could be changed at any time. What is needed is legislation that will clarify this matter once and for all.
On November 7, 2007, a memo from the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) mandated that all community “colleges should immediately begin admitting undocumented individuals.” The new policy reversed an August 2004 directive that permitted each college to decide on its own whether to admit illegal aliens.
In the wake of the firestorm that erupted following the November 2007 policy change, the community college system asked for clarification from Attorney General Roy Cooper. On May 6, 2008, the attorney general’s office issued a response that concluded the following:
While NCCCS reports that only 112 illegal aliens are currently enrolled in the curriculum instruction component of the community college system, Civitas’ analysis of U.S. Census data suggests the number is closer to 10,000. A very conservative estimate would place the cost to educate these students at $5 million to $7 million.
NCCCS is continuing to educate thousands of illegal aliens – more than 37,000, according to our estimates – via its continuing education programs.
Continuing education courses are generally offered free of charge to all students – at a cost to taxpayers of $154.4 million. Presuming that illegal aliens make up at least 6.5 percent of enrollment, the cost to taxpayers is more than $10 million.
Instruction costs do not include capital costs. Statewide general obligation bonds for the community college system are $850 million; local bonds for community colleges are millions more.
– President Ralls announcement has not resolved whether illegal aliens will be permitted to enroll in the community college system in the future. NCCCS is awaiting a response from the Department of Homeland Security regarding whether colleges should admit illegal aliens. Such a response, however, would not decide the matter, as only the state of North Carolina has the authority to determine whether it will admit illegal aliens to its public higher educational system (cf. Equal Access Ed. v. Merten (2004)).
– The UNC system – per policy 700.1.4[G] – continues to enroll illegal aliens at the out-of-state tuition rate.
– Two bills (HB 164 and HB 409) introduced during the 2007 legislative session would have prohibited granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. Former NCCCS president Martin Lancaster, who is responsible for forcing the colleges to admit illegal aliens in the first place, stated in April 2008 that he “fully expects legislators to pass a law barring illegal immigrants from the state’s colleges.” To date, no such legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly.
– Legislation banning illegal aliens from receiving in-state tuition would be largely meaningless, as no state institution officially provides in-state tuition to illegal aliens.
– Model legislation regarding this issue should do the following two things:
2) Require all higher educational institutions to verify the Social Security number and legal status of all applicants. This can easily be done by means of the federal SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlement) online database. Alternatively, Johnston Community College claims it is already using its current software to screen Social Security numbers as part of the routine application process.
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We use two different methodologies to arrive at the number of illegal aliens in the community college system. The first method, which we applied to students in the curriculum instruction program, is adjusted for age and likely college attendance. This method is derived from our analysis of data from the American Community Survey. The second method treats students in the continuing education program as having characteristics equivalent to those of the general Hispanic population. This method, which is based on data from the Pew Hispanic Center, presumes 78 percent of Hispanic students in continuing education courses are illegal aliens.