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DACA Recipients Sue Georgia Officials Seeking In-State Tuition

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DACA Recipients Sue Georgia Officials Seeking In-State Tuition

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On April 26, 2016, ten students in Georgia filed a lawsuit seeking in-state tuition rates based on their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Georgia’s university system requires those seeking in-state tuition rates to demonstrate “lawful presence” in the United States. The governing body of the university system has determined that DACA recipients do not meet the “lawful presence” requirement.

This is the second time that the group has filed a lawsuit seeking in-state tuition rates. In February, the students’ lawsuit stalled before the Georgia Supreme Court due to sovereign immunity. This time around, the students are individually suing the 20 members of the Board of Regents, the board that controls Georgia’s university system, in an attempt to avoid the sovereign immunity issues.

The students argue that they are lawfully present in the United States because they are recipients of DACA, the program implemented by President Obama in 2012 that allows certain individuals who entered the United States before their 16th birthday to receive a work permit and be exempt from deportation. The outcome of the lawsuit is important, because in-state tuition is generally much cheaper than tuition for non-residents. If the court finds in favor of the students, Georgia will join the nearly 20 states that have policies allowing undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates, including Colorado. Such a policy increases access to higher education, positively affecting not only the individual students, but also their communities.

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