Schooling undocumented immigrants

As Washington prepares to train its fire on the issue of immigration, and anti-immigrant hate groups proliferate, North Carolina has taken a step toward allowing undocumented immigrants – at their own expense – attend community college here.

The State Community College Board cast a final vote Friday to admit illegal immigrants at the 58 community college campuses. Illegal immigrants will have to pay out-of-state tuition, about $7,700 a year, and they can be removed from a class if it is full and a legal resident wants in.

The last count I saw showed all of 112 such students across the state, enough to prompt then-Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue — now governor — to express her opposition to allowing them to attend the colleges at all.

The out-of-state tuition requirement is purely punitive (like using police resources to arrest and deport immigrants for minor traffic violations), and immigrants’ allies hope the decision to charge them high tuition will be repealed. But just as likely, I fear, is that the state legislature will instead overturn the Community College Board. The guy from Americans for Legal Immigration PAC is not satisfied with the out-of-state tax:

“This is a bad vote. It’s part of a much larger national agenda. There’s an agenda afoot here, and they intend to give [illegal immigrants] all the benefits of full American citizens.”

To the charge of wanting everyone to have access to a basic college education, I would have to plead guilty.

There is also the problem of the jobs the students will be able to get. As one opponent wrote, “What are these illegal immigrants being trained for?  Jobs that they cannot legally obtain.”

Hopefully the same slippery slope that leads to legal employment would also lead to the extension of human rights to migrant workers, some of whom report wage theft and gender discrimination in their “guest-worker” jobs in North Carolina.

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