State may call students ‘illegals,’ but Fulton judge rules otherwise in in-state tuition case

Protesters demonstrated against Georgia Board of Regents policies that bar immigrants without legal status from top schools and qualifying for in-state tuition rates at others. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

A Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled students put on a path to citizenship by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program meet the definition of “lawful presence” and are entitled to pay in-state tuition at Georgia’s public colleges.

Those students are forced now under state law to pay out-of-state tuition rates, which are three times higher. The ruling by Judge Gail S. Tusan was celebrated by students hindered by their parents’ illegal status even though they themselves grew up in Georgia and were legally able to attend K-12 public schools. Ten DACA recipients sued the Board of Regents for the ability to pay in-state tuition at state colleges.

The AJC”s Jeremy Redmon reported:

A 2008 state law says noncitizens cannot pay the in-state rates unless they are “legally in this state.” And a Board of Regents tuition policy closely tracks that law. Assisted by local immigration attorney Charles Kuck, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit pointed to federal records that say DACA recipients are lawfully present in the U.S.

“Defendants have refused to accept the federally established lawful presence of plaintiffs and many other similarly situated students — students who are Georgia taxpayers, workers, and graduates of Georgia public high schools pursuing an affordable option for higher education,” Tusan wrote in her decision, which was issued Friday. “Such refusal of a faithful performance of their duties is unreasonable and creates a defect of legal justice that has already negatively impacted thousands of Georgia students.”

The ruling does not undo the Georgia policy barring students lacking legal status from attending campuses that didn’t admit all academically qualified applicants for the two most recent academic years. The prohibition applies to Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Georgia College & State University. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a federal lawsuit in September alleging the policy is preempted by federal law and is violating equal protection rights..

While many commenters on this blog contend students should pay a price for their parents’ illegal entry into the United States, others believe these kids and the state benefit when they go to college.

A major source of support has been Freedom University, an Atlanta-based group helping DACA students and undocumented students prepare for and get into college. In a statement on its Facebook page, Freedom University said:

Judge Gail S. Tusan of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit of the Fulton County Superior Court has ruled in favor of DACA students in their lawsuit against the Georgia Board of Regents’ In-State Tuition Ban!

The Georgia Board of Regents is “hereby compelled to perform their duty in applying the federal definition of lawful presence as it relates to students who are DACA recipients and to grant them in-state tuition status.”

While DACA’s future is uncertain in the upcoming administration, this is an important victory in the struggle for equal access to education in Georgia. Congratulations to the courageous undocumented students of the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance who were plaintiffs in this case and attorney Charles Kuck who successfully argued the case for in-state tuition!

The court’s ruling has dealt a serious blow to the Board of Regents Policy 4.3.4. In addition, Policy 4.1.6., the five-college ban, was partially defeated in November 2016 and is now a three-college ban (UGA, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College and State University).

Freedom is a constant struggle, but with undocumented students leading the way, we will win.

Reader Comments 0

210 comments
northernneighbor
northernneighbor

I'm sympathetic to the students that our elected officials allowed this situation to unfold like this. At sometime in their lives these students are going to have to face the situation that they are legally unemployable, college degree or not, regardless of the tuition.  

Trevor Stricklin
Trevor Stricklin

This is what happens when judges have no understanding or respect for the law or our Constitution.

J260
J260

All these flowery words from MaryElizabethSings, and yet she never addresses the fact that we spend more and more and more on public schools every year, only to turn out graduates who are dumb as a bag of rocks.


Parents, do yourselves and your kids a favor.  Put them in private schools, whatever the cost.  You want uber-lib pro-illegal buffoons like MaryElizabethSings brainwashing your kids all day every day?

readcritic
readcritic

@MaryElizabethSings In an ideal world. 

Unfortunately, being magnanimous has consequences and American citizens are suffering from their own government's generosity and unwillingness to protect and serve.

Karen Post
Karen Post

Public schools know exactly who is undocumented but do allow everyone attend free.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I never was a Trump supporter and I never believed in "The Wall" until I found out the ENORMOUS cost of deporting illegal immigrants once they set foot in the USA.  Some (like unaccompanied minors from Central America) don't even try to hide - they present themselves immediately to border agents.  Then they are given a summons to appear in court (where a large number simply disappear) and are released into the US.  No vetting, no nothing.  To get them actually back out of the country takes thousands more dollars each.  So the only way to solve that is to prevent them from reaching American soil.  Sort of like what the Coast Guard does with Cubans. How did Central Americans make it all the way through Mexico - Mexico's criminals take them across the country in return for their life savings and drop them at our doorstep and Mexico's leaders turn a blind eye to it. This is a big issue and Hillary's failure to address it was one of the reason's she lost with the "middle" vote.

readcritic
readcritic

@class80olddog It is costing citizens not only dollars and cents to deport undesirable ILLEGALS, but it is also costing American citizens their safety here at home. See the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Section A, p. 2) titled "Mexican rape suspect deported often. " The information supplied by the Associated Press states that a Mexican man is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus as it traveled through Kansas. He had been deported 10 times and voluntarily removed 9 times since 2003. Good grief!

How bad does it have to get before this is stopped?!!!!

Mack68
Mack68

Never mind that "documents" were not required to resettle into this country until after 1918. 


TomGaff
TomGaff

What do you expect of some Fulton County liberal judge?

James Wright
James Wright

To me, if they are not US citizens then they have very few if any rights. They are illegals. Some people just can't understand that. JWm

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

Incompetent, incorrect ruling dead on appeal.  What a knucklehead.

Bill Day
Bill Day

If you low life Bernie lovers want to support them go ahead and adopt all of them !!

Tony Meaty
Tony Meaty

ALL ILLEGALS AND THEIR OFFSPRING ARE TRESPASSERS IN THIS COUNTRY AND DESERVE TO BE REMOVED. THEY DON'T DESERVE BENEFITS OF ANY KIND.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Illegal immigrants have cost public schools billions in extra costs for ESL classes - taking away funds for other students.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Starik @class80olddog I, for one, am sick and tired of being the world's policeman and savior! It is time to stop supporting all these other countries, stand on their own two feet or perish!

class80olddog
class80olddog

You know, when you are in the wrong, the best thing might be just to lie low.  If you make waves, you might find yourself targeted as the first to be deported.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Trump will most likely remove any special accommodation for the "Dreamers" once he is President; and I do think this is a reason for this decision. Might as well let them access Ga. colleges and universities until the academic year is up, because they won't be able to in Fall 2017.

MotocrossSurvivor
MotocrossSurvivor

So why bother with law anymore.  Just let anyone in.  Get rid of the Coast Guard, border patrol and all the rest.  The US is officially here for all to feed off.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments. Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments. So the the small amount taxes that illegals contribute are negligent compared to the cost of them being here. There are many real citizens out there struggling and trying to figure out how they are going to pay for their children's education. Meanwhile our tax dollars and scholarships are going to illegal immigrants. Brighten up Americans. It puts a burden on all citizens and tax payers in every way. We need to enforce current and legislate stronger immigration laws. Call the Judge's office....Fulton Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan and tell her what an idiot she is.

Drea Moore
Drea Moore

Jim Hannas I agree ☝️. But don't make this a "Christian" view. Because the Bible says love ALL. Most people are not true Christians spouting this much hate.

Jim Hannas
Jim Hannas

Here we go again 'Summer' - you still can't explain the following: immigrant parents pay for their children's education by paying property tax (via a mortgage or on behalf of their landlord). There goes your 'biggest' argument. Add to that what they contribute to the economy and what they pay in federal, state, and local taxes - these undocumented immigrants are makers and not takers. Taxation and legislation are my professional specialities and you clearly don't possess the wherewithal to articulate a cogent argument. I realize this doesn't fit your hateful 'Christian' narrative but you truly need to educate yourself. You're making a fool of yourself.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

Jim Hannas : LMAO...You sir are the one that is making a fool of yourself. Taxes are paid on rental properties by the owners regardless of who rents or if no one rents the property. Not a valid argument. You sir are just pissed because it appears that you are in a relationship with an illegal immigrant. Like it or not illegals are a drain on our society. Find one of those safe zones that you liberals love and cuddle up with your boy friend and stick your thumb up your butt. Your professional specialties?? LMAO.....It is ignorance like yours that is crippling America.

UltraElf
UltraElf

what are these judges drinking? Illegal is illegal. This is not Let's Make a Deal. Kick them out. Does not matter if they had no choice. Enforce the laws for everyone. Breaking into a country is no different than breaking into a house or bank. Enforce the laws or kick the judge off the bench!

readcritic
readcritic

@UltraElf You are so right! I also think that judge who repeatedly releases the juveniles who do the all the carjackings and car break-ins should have his car location disclosed so that his vehicle is up for grabs. The police are disgusted with the "catch and release" mentality of the judicial system. Good investigative reporters should make public all judges decisions so that bad judges get ousted and even disbarred. The judges' salaries are outrageous for the disservice they perpetrate upon the public they are supposed to protect and serve.

Starik
Starik

@readcritic @UltraElf Garbage. We need these kids for the future of the state and country. How about this: fornication is illegal, therefore kids born to unmarried parents are illegal.

readcritic
readcritic

@Starik @readcritic @UltraElf Why do we need ILLEGALS for the future of the state? LEGAL citizens can and will nicely provide for the future of the state. Yes, the U.S. unfortunately does reward people with additional Welfare money for having baby after baby they can't afford to raise. That is another issue for unwise use of taxpayer dollars that could be open to investigation.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@UltraElf It was a FULTON COUNTY liberal judge. What did you really expect?

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Starik @readcritic @UltraElf


How do you know how many positions need to be filled? How does Mr. Obama? How do you match needs with unchecked flows of immigrants? Fact is, determining how many are needed is a legislative function, taking into account needs on one hand, and available resources--schools, hospitals, clinics, housing..._ on the other. There are 7.6 billion people on the planet. i suspect 6+ billion would come, if they had the opportunity. Should they all be allowed?

readcritic
readcritic

@MotocrossSurvivor @Starik @readcritic @UltraElf Correct. The children are not illegal; they are illegitimate. See what is going on in middle and high school classrooms. These young children are having one child after another while in school and receiving Welfare and child care support. It encourages more of the same.

USMC2841
USMC2841

@Starik @readcritic @UltraElf The biggest lie the Chamber of H1-B visas ever sold.  There are American citizens that would take those jobs.  Who filled these jobs before the recent influx?  McDonald's was founded in 1940.  How did Ray Kroc ever make it without illegals?  It's simple supply and demand.  If corporations can bully officials into ignoring the law they can flood the market and pay lower wages.  We have a full generation of Americans that don't have the basic job skills of show up on time, professional appearance/demeanor and answering to authority.  If they are lucky enough to get technical training they face the same artificially saturated field thanks to H1-B visa violations.