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Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 11:51am

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit From Undocumented Students Challenging Georgia Board Of Regents

Updated: 6 months ago.
Students rally for in-state tuition in Georgia (Photo Credit: Jeanne Bonner)

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents challenging Georgia’s policy on limiting undocumented students’ access to state universities.

Judge John Goger ruled that under sovereign immunity, the students can’t sue the state.

Under the current state policy, undocumented students are barred from the top five most selective schools in Georgia and pay out-of-state tuition at other state schools.

Martin Lopez-Galicia is an undocumented student who lives in Atlanta with his family. He says Georgia’s undocumented students will continue to fight against the policy.

“Time and time again this issue will be laid out in the forefront, whether through acts of civil disobedience or through publications that still keeps the issue going.”

At some point, says Lopez-Galicia, Georgia and the nation as a whole will have to deal with undocumented residents.

“It’s affecting a lot of people and it’s just a reality for the nation. If people want to ignore it for another month or another year, that’s their decision, but the ultimate reality this is a current issue that’s not going to go away.”

The students who sued argued a federal stay of deportation known as Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals gives them legal standing to pay in-state tuition.

Attorney Charles Kuck, the group’s lawyer who filed the suit, plans to appeal.

Emory University law professor Polly Price says undocumented students should appeal to the state Supreme Court. She says the students could get help if Congress passes immigration reform, but that’s unlikely right now.

“Expedited review I think would be appropriate in this case, to the Georgia Supreme Court so the DACA students aren’t left in limbo for a year or more,” said Price. “ But I think the reality is they’re probably going to be left in limbo.”

Price says Georgia’s law on sovereign immunity is so vague that it needs to be better defined. She believes now might be the time for the state Supreme Court to clear that up.

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