Community Colleges

N.C. Community Colleges Urged by State Lawyer to Limit Enrollment of Illegal Immigrants

May 07, 2008

North Carolina’s 58 community colleges should drop their policy of admitting all illegal immigrants who meet the institutions’ other eligibility criteria and restrict access to those who meet standards outlined in federal law, the general counsel for the state’s attorney general said in an advisory letter issued today, according to the The News & Observer, a newspaper in Raleigh, N.C.

The general counsel’s advice runs counter to a directive issued last fall by the community-college system’s lawyer. In November, David Sullivan, the system’s general counsel, issued a memorandum in which he said that the community colleges should immediately begin admitting undocumented immigrants who meet the basic requirements of either having graduated from high school or being at least 18 years old. That overturned a policy of allowing the campuses to decide individually whether to consider applicants’ immigration status.

When he issued the memorandum last fall, Mr. Sullivan said his directive was based on a 1997 opinion by the state’s attorney general at the time — Michael F. Easley, a Democrat who is now governor — which said that the colleges could not impose nonacademic criteria for admission.

A spokeswoman for the community-college system was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that officials there would take today’s letter — from J.B. Kelly, the general counsel in the state attorney general’s office — under advisement. —Sara Hebel