Community colleges to discuss immigrants

N.C. community college leaders will discuss this week whether to admit illegal immigrants to degree programs after federal officials told the college system it was up to the state, a newspaper reported Monday.

Community college spokeswoman Audrey Bailey said the discussion will take place during board meetings Thursday and Friday, The Fayetteville Observer reported.

Officials are looking at a decision made in May to bar illegal immigrants from degree programs. Officials said at the time they wanted to get guidance from federal immigration experts.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was the state's call and that no federal law banned ban illegal immigrants studying for degrees.

Hispanic advocate Tony Asion said the decision to reopen discussion would benefit everyone.

“This is good for everyone in the state, not just Hispanics,” said Asion, director of the Raleigh-based advocacy group El Pueblo.

David Sullivan, an attorney for Fayetteville Technical Community College, told state community college officials in November that illegal immigrants should be admitted.

Officials said there are 112 illegal immigrants among the 297,000 students seeking degrees in community colleges across the state.