Immigration Enforcement

Fact Sheet: N.C. Community Colleges and Immigration

On November 7, 2007, a memo from the Office of Legal Affairs of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCS) was issued to community college presidents, deans, and admissions officers directing that all community “colleges should immediately begin admitting undocumented individuals.”

  • The new policy reverses an August 2004 directive from the same office that said, “Undocumented immigrant admissions shall be at the discretion of the local institution as long as the policies and practices are consistent with the provisions of the federal and state laws and regulations in Title 23 of the North Carolina Administrative Code.”
  • The directive, based on a 1997 advisory opinion by then-Attorney General Mike Easley’s office, says community colleges cannot “impose nonacademic requirements on admissions to its programs.” Based on this opinion, NCCS concluded that immigration status is a nonacademic requirement and should have no bearing on whether a student can attend any of the state’s 58 community colleges.
  • The directive was apparently issued in response to a complaint by a student enrolled in the hybrid high school/college program, Learn and Earn. The program permits North Carolina high school students to concurrently enroll in classes in the University of North Carolina or N.C. Community College systems while taking high school courses in an integrated program on a college campus. Students do not pay tuition for the college classes, and they can earn an associate’s degree or two years of transferable credit with just one additional year of school.
  • The advisory opinion issued by the attorney general carries no legal standing. Courts of law are free to consider or ignore advisory opinions. The General Assembly of North Carolina is also free to pass legislation that would nullify this opinion (cf. HB 409 and HB 164).


According to preliminary estimates, this new policy will cost North Carolina taxpayers between $6 million and $8 million. As the program expands, costs will increase.

  • This new policy – in violation of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act – encourages and induces illegal immigration by providing illegal immigrants with a taxpayer-subsidized education. By preparing illegal immigrants to enter North Carolina’s workforce, this new policy also ignores the fact that under the Immigration and Nationality Act it is illegal to employ an illegal alien.
  • This directive asks taxpayers to subsidize the education of undocumented aliens who are not in the country legally and cannot legally work in North Carolina or in the United States.
  • Illegal immigrants will be assessed out-of-state tuition. On average, out-of-state tuition covers only 50 percent to 70 percent of the total costs of education.
  • Alternative figures released by the community college system regarding the costs to educate an out-of-state student do not include capital costs. According to the North Carolina Community College System Fact Book, tuition funds comprise only 12.5 percent of total community college operating expenses. State and local funds – i.e., state and local taxpayers – comprise 82 percent of all funding for the community college system.
  • In 2005, legislation to grant illegal immigrants in-state-tuition was considered by the North Carolina General Assembly. According to Civitas’ April 2007 DecisionMaker Poll, 70 percent of voters oppose giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition.
  • In 2001, Texas granted in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. In 2005, Texas reported a 900 percent increase in enrollment of illegal immigrants in state higher education institutions and community colleges.

December 10, 2007 - Posted by | north carolina | ,

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