Hispanic Advocates Seek College Aid for North Carolina Illegal Immigrants
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Advocates for North Carolina’s Hispanic population are pressing for changes that would make illegal immigrants eligible for admission and reduced-rate tuition at public universities. Federal law requires North Carolina and other states to educate illegal immigrants through high school without questioning their residency status. The issue of access to higher education has been hotly debated for years in Texas and California, both of which have sizable Hispanic populations. The issue has gained more attention in North Carolina as its Hispanic population grows and more qualified students are denied a chance at college. Data from the 2000 census indicate that about 379,000 Hispanics live in North Carolina and 120,090 of them are under the age of 18. Hispanic advocates estimate that 65 percent of Latino immigrants are in the U.S. illegally or on tourist or working visas. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington nonprofit group that seeks stronger enforcement of immigration laws, estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 of the nation’s estimated 6 million illegal immigrants are between 15 and 19 years old. They have no place in public universities, says Jack Martin, the federation’s director of special projects. “It makes no sense to be expending public money on educating people for employment that is denied to them by law,” Martin says. ” It is illegal to give employment to an illegal alien in the United States.“The purpose of higher education is to prepare people for employment, so on the one hand, either you would be contributing to preparing these people to be working illegally by expending money on their education, or you would be wasting that money educating them when they would not be employed.” El Pueblo, a Hispanic advocacy group in North Carolina, wants undocumented students who have lived in the state at least a year and graduated from a state high school to be eligible for admission to a public university. The illegal aliens also should be charged in-state tuition if they are accepted, the group said. At the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill that is the difference between paying $1,860 and $11,026.
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