Tara Jeffries, Daily Tar Heel, January 24, 2014
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office deemed N.C. students without documentation ineligible for in-state tuition in a letter released Thursday — but activists, embattled from a 30-mile march earlier this month in pursuit of policy change, say the fight is far from over.
The advisory letter states that immigration policy falls under federal authority, and students without documentation — including those qualifying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which grants deferred deportation to those brought to the U.S. without documentation as children — do not meet residency requirements for in-state tuition.
But N.C. Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, who requested Cooper’s legal opinion last month, said the outcome came as no surprise.
“I was hopeful for a different response, but I was expecting it,” Brandon said. “The attorney general made it very clear that this is something we would have to tackle on the federal level. His hands are tied; he has to abide by the current law.”
Brandon said tuition policy could also shift through a change in state law. He is sponsoring a bill would topple the status quo, allowing in-state tuition for some N.C. students without documentation.
Brandon said the current policy creates a class distinction that drives students without documentation to the bottom tier of the workforce.
“We give them enough education to be low-level workers, but not enough education to be skilled workers, and that is an injustice,” he said.