An Atlanta-based immigration attorney planned to file a lawsuit Wednesday against Georgia’s Board of Regents in Dekalb County Superior Court.
Currently, a Regents policy requires illegal immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition at the state’s colleges and universities, even if they graduated from a Georgia high school.
Attorney Charles Kuck said students who qualify for a federal immigration status deferral under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, should also be eligible for in-state tuition. DACA went into effect last summer and allows many qualified students to stay in the country without fear of deportation for two year periods.
Kuck said requiring those students to pay out-of-state prices meant they could not further their educations.
“It’s a massive change for these children,” said Kuck. “Think about it. What would you do if your future had been delayed one year? Two years? Three years? Five years? What you wanted to accomplish and do you couldn’t do because you couldn’t afford to do it being treated differently from everybody else you went to school with.”
He argued DACA grants those students lawful presence and that means Georgia should give them in-state pricing.
“We’re not talking about legal status--that’s an entirely different thing—nor are we arguing that these children have legal status, they do not. But they do have lawful presence and if the language ‘lawfully present’ is present in the Board of Regents’ tuition policy and the federal government says that these children are lawfully present if granted DACA, there is no lawful reason why these children are not given in-state tuition in Georgia,” Kuck explained.
A spokesman for the Board of Regents said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation.