A coalition of North Carolina students and community activists on Wednesday asked state legislators to oppose a bill that would deny higher education to undocumented immigrants.
“Education is being attacked everywhere, from the increase in tuition, reduction in budgets, layoffs of professors, fewer funds for schools, to preventing students without papers from fulfilling their dreams. It’s a battle that we will get through together,” Viridiana Martinez, a member of NC DREAM Team, told Efe.
That group, which takes its name from the DREAM Act, a congressional proposal to give undocumented students a path to legal residence, helped organize Wednesday’s demonstration at the opening of the legislative session in Raleigh, the state capital.
In the November elections, Republicans for the first time in 112 years won a majority in both houses of the North Carolina legislature and have threatened to push through measures that would harm undocumented immigrants.
One of those measures is to block access to community colleges and state universities to students with improper immigration status.
In 2010, North Carolina’s State Board of Community Colleges established an “open door” policy for undocumented students who fulfill certain requirements.
“There are other neighboring states like Georgia and South Carolina that already do not accept undocumented students. We don’t want that to happen here, and so today we’re also starting an education campaign so that the community can become acquainted with the issue,” said Hector Vacar, the coordinator of the grassroots group Action NC.
North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, has tried to distance herself from the immigration issue arguing that it is a “federal matter,” but during her 2008 political campaign she came out in favor of denying access to community colleges to undocumented immigrants.