Georgia DACA Students Could Pay in-State Tuition at Public Colleges

(ESPAÑOL) When Ivan Morales heard about a Fulton County Superior Court judge’s ruling that would allow DACA students to pay in-state tuition at Georgia’s public colleges, he was thrilled.

Morales and nine other students sued the university system’s Board of Regents last year. The students have temporary reprieves from deportation through a federal program called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It was created by President Obama through executive action in 2012 for young people brought to the country illegally as children.

The students argued they’re entitled to in-state tuition rates because under DACA they have “lawful presence,” which the university system requires in order for someone to be eligible to pay in-state tuition. The Board of Regents has said that DACA recipients don’t meet the “lawful presence” requirement.

But, Morales said, the ruling was a bit of a short victory. Late Tuesday, a spokesperson for the university system said it will appeal the Fulton County ruling.

Despite what happens in legal battles in Georgia, the debate over whether or not DACA recipients should be allowed to pay in-state could all soon change with the new president-elect. Donald Trump’s plans for DACA haven’t been clear. During the campaign, he said he’d end the program, but has more recently said he was going to “work something out.”

Charles Kuck, the attorney who represents the students, said he understands the window may be short for students to pay in-state tuition.

Kuck said DACA recipients should be able to get in-state tuition now, and disagrees that an appeals process triggers an automatic stay of the Fulton County judge’s order. He said he plans to take action so that, during the court appeals, DACA students can pay in-state tuition now.

“[Tuesday] was a victory which we should all celebrate,” said Kuck. “Now we have to work again to make sure our victory is preserved and it goes into effect.”