Immigrant college students lose Georgia Supreme Court appeal for in-state tuition

From the State Supreme Court this morning:

There have been many public protests at the the state Capitol against Regents policies that force them to pay out-of-state tuition and deny them entry to the research campuses.

The state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit contending college students who are not U.S.  citizens are entitled to in-state tuition, ruling the Board of Regents is immune from legal challenge in this instance.

In a ruling today by the Supreme Court of Georgia, college students who are not U.S. citizens have lost their appeal of a Georgia Court of Appeals decision upholding the dismissal of their lawsuit by a Fulton County judge. The students were asking the high court to rule that they are entitled to cheaper in-state tuition at Georgia’s colleges and universities.

In today’s unanimous opinion, however, Justice Harold Melton writes for the court that the Board of Regents, which governs the state’s university system, is immune from the students’ lawsuit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which is the legal doctrine that protects the state government and its agencies from being sued.

“It is settled that the Board is an agency of the State to which sovereign immunity applies,” the opinion says.

According to the facts of the case, in 2010, the state Board of Regents amended its policy manual to require that all students who wish to attend any institution in the University System of Georgia be “lawfully present” in the United States. The policy manual also required that for any non-citizen student to receive in-state tuition, the student had to be “legally in this state.” On June 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program, which allows certain young people who are in the country illegally to remain here for at least two years without fear of removal.

Miguel Angel Martinez Olvera and other non-citizen college students who are beneficiaries of the federal deferral program, filed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents seeking a “declaratory judgment” from the trial court that they are “lawfully present” in Georgia and are therefore entitled to in-state tuition. The Board of Regents claimed they were not in “lawful status” in this country. (A “declaratory judgment” is one that declares the legal rights of the parties and asks the court to give its opinion on a question of law, but it does not award damages or order that any action be taken or stopped.)

In response to the lawsuit, the Board of Regents filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the students’ lawsuit was barred by “sovereign immunity.” The trial court granted the motion, the students appealed, but the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision. The students then appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which accepted their “petition for certiorari” to determine whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that a legal action seeking a declaratory judgment was barred by sovereign immunity.

“The sweep of sovereign immunity under the Georgia Constitution is broad,” today’s opinion says. “It provides: ‘Except as specifically provided in this paragraph, sovereign immunity extends to the state and all of its departments and agencies. The sovereign immunity of the state and its departments and agencies can only be waived by an Act of the General Assembly….’”

In the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources v. Center for a Sustainable Coast, “we recently explained the extensive nature of sovereign immunity. ‘The plain and unambiguous text of the 1991 constitutional amendment shows that only the General Assembly has the authority to waive the State’s sovereign immunity,’” the opinion says. “Therefore, absent some exception, the Board is immune from the declaratory judgment action brought by the students.”

In previous cases, the state Supreme Court has avoided answering whether this sort of declaratory judgment action against the State is barred by sovereign immunity. “In this opinion, we squarely address that question and find that declaratory judgment actions of this type are, in fact, barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity,” the opinion says in a footnote.

The high court has also rejected the students’ argument that the Board’s immunity is waived under the state’s Administrative Procedure Act, “and the students have pointed to no other source of law containing an explicit waiver of the Board’s sovereign immunity in this matter.”

Today’s opinion notes, however, that, “Our decision today does not mean that citizens aggrieved by the unlawful conduct of public officers are without recourse. It means only that they must seek relief against such officers in their individual capacities.”

“At this point in time, however, the students have not attempted to follow this route.”

Back to Maureen: As the AJC reports, this legal battle may continue. “The attorney for the 39 plaintiffs in the case said Friday they would sue the members of the Georgia Board of Regents individually, if the Georgia Supreme Court rejected their claim as the court did Monday. The plaintiffs have scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Monday to announce their next steps.”

Reader Comments 0

73 comments
readcritic
readcritic

The USA has a big problem with education in general. Why do we provide free K-12 education for illegals? Can anyone name a foreign country that provides a free education to our military based personnel with families overseas? Illegals do not have a right to demand anything. They are not legal citizens. Illegals in K-12 public schools cost taxpayers millions of dollars (at about $10K+ per student per year). In addition, special ESOL teachers are hired to teach them the language and tutor. Can a US citizen get that anywhere outside the US? Not only do these illegals and anchor babies get free medical and free K-12 education and SS, but now they want in-state tuition rates. Military families get transferred all over the country and their children are charged out-of-state tuition rates at colleges due to the moves. Their student loans still must be paid with interest at home even while they are serving our country on the front lines overseas. It is time to get rid of career politicians and have term limits. It is obvious that the voters are expressing unrest with the liberal laws giving hard-earned taxpayer dollars away. It is so sad that military citizens and legal citizens don't have a right to the same amenities the illegals get with bought votes.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@readcritic 

As to "free K-12 education" for illegal immigrants, I believe that the justification is that it is in the larger interest of our society that all of its residents be literate and educated. They interact with our citizens in a great many ways.  Think of what it would be like to have millions of inhabitants who could not read or do any math or who didn't know basic science, history, etc. 


The "free medical service" they get is for the hospital Emergency Room, and there too it is in the greater interest of public health. 


And I won't even get into questions of humanitarianism or ethics.



Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

"The state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit contending college students who are not U.S.  citizens are entitled to in-state tuition..."


Who says there is no good news anymore?

Starik
Starik

@Lee_CPA2 They can refile; the Court held that Sovereign Immunity prevented a suit against the Regents, except individually.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

 "The attorney for the 39 plaintiffs in the case said Friday they would sue the members of the Georgia Board of Regents individually, if the Georgia Supreme Court rejected their claim as the court did Monday."


Sounds pretty contemptuous to me - isn't there such a thing as 'frivolous action' for which this eightball can be sanctioned?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@AlreadySheared 

And I'm sure that attorney is encouraging such lawsuits by the plaintiffs. Also, the Regents were acting in their professional roles, so how can they be sued personally?

Caius
Caius

The Actuary of Social Security has reported that about 3.5 million illegals pay into the Social Security system each year about $15 billion.  The money is deducted from their paycheck  and their employer matches that deduction and sends the money to the IRS just like is done by your employer.  Look at your paycheck stub.  And those illegals have no hope of every drawing Social Security.  The SS system just dumps the money into the trust fund.  Free money?


Now who do we fine or send to jail? The illegal?  The employer?  Both?

And Congress has known this for decades and yet no bill correcting this has ever been voted on in Congress. Ever!  And yet most of you vote to send the same senators and congressmen back to Washington year after year.


The problem is not employers or illegals, it is the American voter.  Congress needs to be cleaned out. That means vote against the incumbent. That means in Georgia you will need to vote for a Democrat.  If you can't do that, then you can continue to just make noise as you have done for the past 30 plus years.


Have a nice day!






Waverly
Waverly

@Caius What about the other 9-10 million, many of whom would be working, that are getting paid under the table in cash?  If the E-Verify is a requirement with penalties applied to the employer, the jobs will dry up.


I agree that both parties are at fault.  The Republicans and Democrats want cheap labor.  The Democrats anticipate a larger voting block that will ensure their power for generations.  It comes down to choosing the lesser of two evils.  Unfortunately, the Democrats are a bit too Liberal/Socialistic/Communistic for my tastes.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

A vote for the current crop of Democrats in Georgia is a wasted vote, most all of them could not find their left hand with their right, as for the illegals SOME may pay into SS but they do take out money through SSI. What's the problem with them coming here in the normal process as millions before them have?

Waverly
Waverly

@Infraredguy The main issue of accepting illegal immigrants into the country is that the primary voting block for the Democratic party was starting to shrink in size.  The Democrats need a permanent lower class that is dependent on government handouts to keep them in power.  Never mind that such actions have the potential to destroy the nation.

Starik
Starik

@Waverly @Infraredguy Except for family unification, which can happen when their citizen kids reach 21, it's close to impossible to immigrate legally.

Starik
Starik

@Waverly @Caius The illegals are, culturally and in religious beliefs, very conservative.  If the GOP would stop demonizing them they could very well be Republican voters.

Eric209
Eric209

@Caius First of all, if you are illegal, you have no rights to work in the US. These people work under the table, not paying income tax, SS and State tax (if applicable). 

Waverly
Waverly

There is no way to justify giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens, especially when we legal citizens have to pay out of state tuition for our legal citizen kids.  It is time for this country to stop being known as the Land of Handouts for every individual who feels they can sneak across the border.


If we want to put an end to the illegal immigrant problem, the task should not be too difficult:

1.  Require E-Verify for EVERY employer.  If an employer hires an individual that does not pass muster, the employer is fined $250,000 per individual and gets one year in prison;

2.  Cut off all health care to illegal immigrants;

3.  Cut off all food stamps to illegal immigrants;

4.  Cut off all housing subsidies to illegal immigrants and require E-Verify to ALL renters.


Cut off their food, housing, healthcare, and jobs.  It will not take long for them to find their way home at minimal cost to the country.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly Illegal immigrants cannot receive food stamps. Though I doubt this fact will tamp down your heartburn.

Waverly
Waverly

@jaki11 @Waverly IMO, Trump is the ONLY candidate that one could reasonably expect to take a serious stand on this.  The rest of the Republicans are too concerned with being politically correct and the Democrats are wanting additional voters.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly It is kind of funny to watch you freak out over a non-existent problem due to your own ignorance. 

BTW, how do you propose to deny emergency healthcare to illegals? And is that really a good idea considering things like Ebola? 

jaki11
jaki11

@Waverly @jaki11  Correct.  We need to remember that not only illegals are the problem..we have too many non-working welfare recipients for generations that suck the system.  Hope Trump will deal with that.

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly Forgive me for not being overly familiar with the benefits of welfare.  Have never had the experience.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly However educated you consider yourself you were clearly ignorant of the facts in this instance. Which is pretty common when it comes to the subject of illegals---lots of screaming and righteous indignation, very little logical, factual thought. 

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly I love the way you Liberals resort to name calling and demeaning comments so quickly.  I assure you that I am just as educated, if not more so, than you are.  Illegal immigration is, most certainly, a problem in this country.


If we eliminate the illegal immigrant problem, by forcing them to return to their native country, by whatever means necessary issues like emergency health care and Ebola will be greatly diminished as well.  Keep in mind that it was an illegal immigrant that brought Ebola into the U.S. to begin with.

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly Just which "facts" am I "ignorant" on?  Rather than simply slinging ambiguous insults, which is a typical Liberal tactic to try and silence the other point of view, please ingratiate us all with YOUR knowledge

lfelton
lfelton

@Waverly @jaki11 We still have a Republic and not a monarchy. It will take Congress to pass new laws on immigration not one man. Ask George W. Bush. 

Ura Moe Ron
Ura Moe Ron

@Aquagirl @Waverly A nonexistent problem? Gaming the system with fake SS numbers and/or stolen identities to get benefits is a problem. So is welfare fraud in the form of selling VIC cards to illegals. But you just keep your warm fuzzies on with your conviction that the illegals MUST be doing the right thing because it's the law. That 's why they're here illegally to begin with, right? To obey our laws?

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly I already did....pointing out that part of your objection was completely wrong. 

This apparently put a burr under your saddle, but didn't evoke the rational response, which is "what do I really know about illegal immigration, beyond knee-jerk, impassioned, and unworkable ideas?


Here's something else you might like to consider---do we really want to make hospitals check your papers? What happens when you come in after an accident and don't have your driver's license? Do they kick you out and let you bleed until somebody can retrieve your wallet? 

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly Did I strike a nerve.  The ONLY thing you pointed out is that illegal immigrants can not get food stamps.  That is, unless, they are purchased illegally, which IS a recognized problem.


In regard to your comment about hospitals, if the illegals are not here, because they have self deported or otherwise due to a lack of jobs and government benefits, there would remain no reason to check anyone's papers.


Still waiting for you to provide substantial "FACT" that you feel I am "IGNORANT" on as relates to illegal immigrants.  If you can not provide anything other than the typical Liberal ambiguity or insults, just say so.

Waiting patiently.

Waverly
Waverly

@lfelton @Waverly @jaki11 If Trump were to get elected and we can keep a Republican House and Senate, at least there might be a chance.

meno
meno

@Waverly @Ura Moe Ron @Aquagirl Can you blame her (given her preference for facts over hysteria)?  I love how according to you cons it is all because of the "illegals" that our country is supposedly dead broke but yet it never crosses your radar to question unnecessary military spending or farm subsidies (which, by any objective measure, is a much bigger problem than fake SS numbers).  It is always easiest to pick on the least powerful!

Waverly
Waverly

@meno @Waverly @Ura Moe Ron @Aquagirl One big difference.  ILLEGAL.  Why can you Libs not get it?  ILLEGAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What facts has she provided that are of any substance?  Like all Libs, the preference is to sling insults and make ambiguous comments to try and silence the opposing view.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly Well, there is one fact you seem unaware of---your pie in the sky idea of E-Verify for everyone is never gonna be implemented. Do you know who ran ICE out of the onion fields in S. Georgia? Republicans. Including the late sainted Paul Coverdell. 


The idea you would ever get a Republican congress not beholden to business interests is not grounded in reality.

 

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly There you go again--pretending you didn't do a complete faceplant on the food stamps, which I corrected.

You can pretend it didn't happen but anyone can read the thread. 

And of course I understand there are people here illegally---the difference between us is I want a REAL solution that will work best for everyone. I avoid freaking out, which is generally recommended by sane people.  

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly I believe that I acquiesced to your comment on food stamps and acknowledged that, having never been a recipient of welfare, I was incorrect on that one inconsistency.  To say that I pretended it did not happen would be a falsehood.

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly What is your "REAL" solution?  In regard to your comment on "freaking out", only YOU have chosen the path of insulting and demeaning in this conversation.  But, that is what Libs do.  All about diversity, just not diversity of thought.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly It's understandable, it's not in your wheelhouse.

As far as a "REAL" solution I would begin by dialing back the drug war. This means no foreign aid for military/DEA operations in Mexico and other points south. More people will stay home if they aren't surrounded by US funded insanity. 

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly Now I get it.  The problem is that mean old United States of America!  Maybe, in your bitterness, you should reconsider just what this world would be like if it were not for that nasty USA.  For instance, how is your Japanese or German?  I wonder, where is your home country?  If not the USA, are you even supposed to be here?

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly What branch?  What unit? When?

Or are you just another one of those anonymous individuals who likes to claim military service?  I do not believe that law enforcement is served by simply deciding to not enforce the laws that one political party finds inconvenient, including illegal immigration.


In regard to the question on illegal immigrants, note the term ILLEGAL.  I have no problem with immigration as long as it is done legally and the individuals CONTRIBUTE to our way of life.  I believe that laws should be enforced.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly I served in the Army. That's pretty well known to other people who post around the AJC, it's not like I decided 10 minutes ago it would serve my argument to pretend I had been in the military. My permanent party was mostly with A co/519th/525. The brigade was directly attached to a corp. 


As for the rest of your post, you seem to have dropped assumptions for simply going on another tangent. What that's about, I dunno, but I'll leave you to it. Your non-responsiveness pretty much says it all----when you're wrong, you switch the subject and counterattack. It's by the book. A very, very dull book.

Waverly
Waverly

@Aquagirl @Waverly It has been fun.  I have enjoyed the debate.  You and I obviously disagree and only time will tell which of our views, if either, will prevail and in doing so, which will be best for this great nation.


Thank you for your service.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly Yeah, I learned a few things along the way too. :) Have a good one. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Aquagirl @Waverly 

...Clearly you learned to keep up the good fight!
  And thanks too for your service during a difficult time.

Starik
Starik

@jaki11 @Waverly I'd rather live next door to hard working immigrants, with or without the proper paperwork, than citizens who are criminals, SSI welfare recipients, and other undesirables.

Starik
Starik

@Aquagirl @Waverly That's cool. I was with Co.A, 519th "[Support Group]," 525th [Support Group] for most of my tour. Different war, I expect - we wore USARV patches.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@Waverly Boy, that was a jump into all sorts of assumptions. 

Just because we're right about most things and are the greatest country in the world doesn't mean we're right about everything. If you subscribe to a black/white worldview I can see how you'd think one criticism of our foreign policy = death to 'Murica! It isn't that cut and dried. You think the US is doing all sorts of things wrong concerning illegals, does that mean you think the US is a mean old idiotic country? You think you are the only one entitled to criticize this country's actions, while labeling me some kind of anti-American commie.

My home country, despite your ASSumption is right here. I served in our military, thus my familiarity with the drug wars. It is a pointless endeavor that only lines the pockets of some businessmen and political hacks. 


If you think that's good for the country, then cheerlead all you want.

Starik
Starik

@Waverly @Aquagirl Do you thank Clinton (the male) and Bush (the younger) for their draft-dodging non-service?

jaki11
jaki11

@Waverly  Your suggestion makes great sense. Too bad we don't have a politician that will stand up to do this.  Trump would be the closest.

readcritic
readcritic

@Waverly Relatives who are taxpaying citizens in the service to our country were sent three plus times to the front lines in Afghanistan and other horrible places. They had to pay full out of state tuition rates because their family was transferred to different states while they were completing their college courses. Their student loans were not even placed on hold while they were overseas. The payments with interest were still required and due on time. How can "illegals" demand anything? The politicians have their priorities so wrong. It is a good reason for the voters to fight for term limits and get rid of the career politicians. It is bad when our military can't get what illegals can get. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

You know, all this would go away if we reformed our immigration system to make sure everyone here either has a legal status (maybe making a pathway to legality - not necessarily citizenship) or they are deported.  We incur these problems when we allow clearly illegal immigrants to remain.  Do we say "we have too many burglars to prosecute, so we are just going to let them alone and not do anything to them"?