N.C. DREAM Team attorney: DACA students should receive in-state tuition

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 12:41 am | Updated: 12:31 am, Sat Jan 18, 2014.

In a letter to Attorney General Roy Cooper, Elizabeth Simpson, an attorney who has been working with the N.C. DREAM Team, issued the opinion that those residents who have been given permission to reside in the country temporarily, Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals, should be eligible for in-state tuition under current North Carolina Law.

The N.C. DREAM Team is an advocacy group for young people who are living in this country without legal permission.

Simpson argued that DACA beneficiaries were “extraordinarily similar” to beneficiaries of another federal immigration program: Temporary Protected Status, which North Carolina law currently extends in-state tuition to. She argued there is no legal reason why DACA immigrants should not be extended the same right.

In her legal memorandum, Simpson stated that “there is no legal basis under North Carolina or federal law to distinguish between TPS beneficiaries and DACA beneficiaries,” and under North Carolina law both are considered domiciliaries—or a place where one makes one’s home. 

Simpson also wrote that, by law, North Carolina public colleges and universities grant in-state tuition status to any domiciliaries.

Like DACA, the TPS program also grants an indefinitely renewable legal permission to remain in the United States to nationals of certain countries who are afflicted by perilous living conditions, including El Salvador, Honduras, and South Sudan.

“The Attorney General should interpret North Carolina law consistent with traditional common law concepts of domiciliary intent, and consistent with the State’s December 2012 determination to grant in-state tuition to TPS [Temporary Protected Status] beneficiaries who are otherwise eligible,” Simpson wrote.

In December, Rep. Marcus Brandon, a Democrat who represents Guilford County, requested Cooper for his legal opinion on whether DACA immigrants should legally have access to in-state tuition while living in North Carolina. Since then, Cooper has maintained silence on the issue.

On Saturday, N.C. DREAM Team and other groups will march from Chapel Hill to the Attorney General’s office, demanding that Cooper relinquish his silence on the matter.