Ten young undocumented immigrants in Georgia filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking the board that oversees its university system to give them in-state tuition rates — again. After being shot down by the Georgia Supreme Court in February, the group of students is asserting for the second time that they have the "lawful presence" required to receive the cheaper college prices, the Associated Press reported.
The students argue they're in the country legally under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy that lets qualified immigrants under a certain age get work permits and protection from deportation for two-year renewable periods. The initiative, also known as DACA, has benefited more than 665,000 people, particularly in states like California, Illinois and Texas, according to the American Immigration Council.
The Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance posted on Facebook that it is suing each of the 20 members of the Board of Regents, which controls the state university system, in order to sidestep the sovereign immunity laws that stalled their case the first time.
“We are bringing this action against the individual members of the Board of Regents for their failure to correctly implement their own rules on in-state tuition,” attorney Charles Kuck said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Justice, common sense and Georgia’s own economic self-interest all demand in-state tuition for DACA recipients. We will fight for this until we win. The hope of Georgia’s children is at stake.”
College tuition for residents is typically much cheaper than for nonresidents. For example, at the University of Georgia, the estimated annual cost of attendance for an in-state student is about $25,000. For an out-of-state student, it's $44,000.
"My family has been paying [Georgia] taxes for the last 15 years," plaintiff Maria Carrillo wrote in a message accompanying an online petition on the issue. "It is ridiculous that the Board of Regents continue to deny us entrance to universities that we have helped fund."
Nearly 20 states have policies that let undocumented immigrants receive in-state tuition rates, among them Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.