Illegal immigrants once again before General Assembly


First Posted: 2/19/2009

RALEIGH With the start of the new legislative session, a number of bills have been introduced in both branches of the North Carolina General Assembly.
One of those bills that is co-sponsored by Sen. Don East, who represents District 30 including Alleghany, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties, asks for the General Assemblys approval of an act to prohibit illegal immigrants from attending North Carolina community colleges.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Philip E. Berger on Feb. 11 with co-sponsors including East, Sen. Andrew C. Brock, Sen. James Forrester, Sen. Jim Jacumin and Sen. Jerry W. Tillman. It has since been referred to the Committee on Education with a focus on higher education.
The bill would establish the purpose of community colleges as to offer education to students who are lawfully present in the United States who are high school graduates or who are beyond the compulsory age limit of the public school system and who have left the public schools.
The bill goes on to state, As of September 1, 2009, the admissions standards of the State Board of Community Colleges and the admissions standards of all local community colleges shall prohibit the admission of persons who are not lawfully present in the United States, except as otherwise required by federal law.
East does not see that the bill will benefit the state, because he does not believe it will make it through the steps necessary to even be heard by the leadership in the Senate, much less get passed. He did not put a tremendous amount of thought into sponsoring the bill when asked, but thought that it was the right thing to do.
Youve just got to make a statement, he said of the sponsorship, noting that his constituents played a role in his decision. Thats kind of where it all comes from. Everywhere I go, a lot of folks I talk to have some strong feelings about immigration. In our part of the country with jobs going away, illegal immigration is a hot topic.
He cited a letter he received last week which spoke of three occasions in the history of the U.S. when the government decided to deport illegal immigrants. All three occasions took place after wars when soldiers returned home in need of jobs.
The policy of illegal immigrants in community colleges has changed four times in the past eight years. On May 13, 2008, the state board of community colleges was told to maintain the policy from December 2001 barring illegal immigrants from community colleges after a November 2007 policy instructed them to allow illegal immigrants into college effective immediately.
On Aug. 15, 2008, the state board voted to keep the doors of community colleges closed to illegal immigrants while hiring an outside consultant to review policies in other states. Preliminary results from that review should be available in April. It was then-Lt. Gov. Bev Perdues request that doors remained closed during the study and the majority of board members concurred.
The existing policy does not affect students involved in dual enrollment, early college or Huskins programs through public high schools, nor does it affect people enrolled in GED, Adult Basic Education, Adult High School, English as a Second Language or other continuing education programs.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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