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Georgia’s Supreme Court Leaves Undocumented Students In Limbo

 
Undocumented students in Georgia protest for in-state tuition rates.
Undocumented students in Georgia will continue to fight for in-state tuition rates.

Undocumented students in Georgia are not giving up on their fight for access to in-state tuition at state universities and community colleges.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this morning that the Georgia Supreme Court has unanimously rejected to an appeal that would have allowed undocumented students across to gain access to in-state tuition rates:

In its ruling Monday, the court said the principle of sovereign immunity shielded the Board of Regents from the plaintiff’s lawsuit, filed more than a year ago.

“The sweep of sovereign immunity under the Georgia Constitution is broad,” the court’s opinion says. “It provides: ‘Except as specifically provided in this paragraph, sovereign immunity extends to the state and all of its departments and agencies. The sovereign immunity of the state and its departments and agencies can only be waived by an act of the General Assembly….’”

Despite the court’s ruling, advocates across Georgia have pledged to continue to fight.

Freedom University, an alternative university that provides college-level classes, scholarship assistance, and leadership development for undocumented students in Georgia, expressed its willingness to continue working “inside and outside the courtroom” on the issue:

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Georgia Board of Regents regarding DACA students and access to in-state tuition.

While the ruling is disappointing for undocumented students and all of us who support them, we can expect Freedom University students to continue fighting for their human right to education – inside or outside the courtroom.

And they will win.

Rigo Rivera, a plaintiff on the lawsuit and a member of the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance, added the had the following to say regarding the court’s decision:

‘Today, the Georgia Supreme decided to severely limit the ability of the residents of Georgia to directly challenge the actions of unelected state officials. The right to declaratory judgment in seeking clarification of the meeting of state rules and regulations has now been completed eliminated in Georgia. While this decision will delay the ability of the DACA recipients to pay in-state tuition and seek to attend all of Georgia’s colleges and universities as the lawfully present Georgia residents that they are, it will not stop them from moving forward in their fight for their education and their futures.”

While the court’s decision was an unfavorable one, undocumented students in Georgia still have options.

Georgia’s Supreme Court has also indicated that their “decision today does not mean that citizens aggrieved by the unlawful conduct of public officers are without recourse,” meaning that the fight for in-state tuition in Georgia is far from over. 

Charles Kuck, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, has signaled that another lawsuit is in the works. “So we will move forward in another action against the individual members of the Board of Regents, as suggested by the Supreme Court.”