EDITORIAL: A Wrong Decision on Alien Education
Dr. John Dempsey is right. The North Carolina Community College system, for which he works, is wrong.
The president of the system, R. Scott Ralls, recently announced that the 58 institutions in the network, including Dempsey's Sandhills Community College here, are henceforth forbidden to admit individuals classified as illegal or undocumented immigrants into curriculum degree programs. This reversed an earlier policy statement by the system's top lawyer.
Dempsey reacted with outspoken disapproval, saying that neither he nor any of the 57 other community college presidents were consulted about the decision announced by Ralls. "Had I been consulted," he declared, "I would have voted against it."
We admire his willingness to stick his neck out and stand up for principle. As we editorialized last December, the current situation is hardly the Invasion of the Hispanic Hordes. At last report, the 270,000 students in North Carolina's community colleges included a grand total of 340 undocumented immigrants. At Sandhills, the total is four out of nearly 4,000 -- one-10th of 1 percent. Is that worth getting lathered up over?
Furthermore, the vast majority of the 4,000 illegals enrolled statewide are not what you might imagine them to be: those Mexicans and others we're always seeing on the evening news, climbing over fences in the American Southwest or riding in dangerously packed trailers. As Gov. Mike Easley said last year when he spoke out against the restrictions, most of the students in question "were brought here as babies and young children through no fault of their own" and "distinguished themselves throughout our K-12 system."
Nor is there anything to the argument that admitting such students costs the community college system money. They pay steep out-of-state tuition, which more than covers their expenses.
Ralls said he was only going by the advice from the state attorney general. But the whole brouhaha, like our own Rep. Joe Boylan's bill to require voters to show photo IDs, has much more to do with politics and anti-alien hysteria than with real-world facts.
Just as there is no evidence that illegal aliens are trying to invade our polling places, there is no reason to believe that allowing a handful of undocumented students to take college classes poses any threat to the security of our Republic or the soundness of our educational system.
Indeed, isn't trying to better oneself through education supposed to be part of the American dream? Will we as a society be better off denying these young people access to our classrooms and consigning them to the streets?
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