“Dreamers” Win Right to Pay In-State Tuition in Georgia


In an article for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jeremy Redmon reports on a judicial decision that “Dreamers” should pay in-state tuition while attending public colleges and universities in Georgia:

Georgia residents who have received a special reprieve from deportation from the Obama administration may begin paying in-state tuition here under a state court ruling released Tuesday.

At issue is the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which grants work permits and temporary deportation deferrals to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children without authorization. Ten DACA recipients living in Georgia sued the Board of Regents in the Fulton County Superior Court for the ability to pay in-state tuition, which is about three times less expensive than Georgia’s out-of-state rates.

A 2008 state law says noncitizens cannot pay the in-state rates unless they are “legally in this state.” And a Board of Regents tuition policy closely tracks that law. Assisted by local immigration attorney Charles Kuck, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit pointed to federal records that say DACA recipients are lawfully present in the U.S.

Fulton Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan agreed with that argument in the ruling she issued Friday. University System of Georgia officials, she wrote, are “hereby compelled to perform their duty in applying the federal definition of lawful presence as it relates to students who are DACA recipients and to grant them in-state tuition status.”

“Defendants have refused to accept the federally established lawful presence of plaintiffs and many other similarly situated students — students who are Georgia taxpayers, workers, and graduates of Georgia public high schools pursuing an affordable option for higher education,” Tusan wrote in her decision, which was issued Friday. “Such refusal of a faithful performance of their duties is unreasonable and creates a defect of legal justice that has already negatively impacted thousands of Georgia students.”

Redmon’s complete article is available at: http://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/judge-georgians-shielded-from-deportation-may-pay-state-tuition/0PuOrVGdeBD9lo8hhMAfTO/.


In his comment on this post, Robert M. Scott, the President of the George State Conference, correctly points out that this judicial decision may very well become moot if Trump issues an executive order rescinding the DACA.

That said, in early December, Seung Min Kim wrote the following in a piece for Politico:

Some 740,000 so-called Dreamers have been given a deportation reprieve and other benefits by President Barack Obama through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Obama enacted by executive action in 2012. But the status of those young immigrants, who do not have formal legal status, has been in limbo because Trump has said he would overturn Obama’s immigration orders.

In an interview with Time magazine announcing him as “Person of the Year,” Trump didn’t go into specifics but signaled that he could find a way to accommodate the Dreamers.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told the magazine. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The interview notes that the president-elect did not back off his promise from the campaign trail to rescind Obama’s executive actions. And without details, it’s difficult to divine exactly what policy Trump would support once he is sworn in and has to face this issue.

His selection for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is also a staunch opponent not only of Obama’s executive actions on immigration but of legalizing those who are in the United States illegally.

A bipartisan group of senators is working on legislation meant to keep the status of the DACA beneficiaries intact should Trump follow through on his pledge and repeal Obama’s executive actions. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-I’ll.), one of the members leading the effort, said last week that more details of the plan could be rolled out at the end of this week.

So, it’s very hard to predict exactly what Trump and/or his Cabinet nominees may do, how much Congressional and popular opposition their actions may provoke–or whether the actions taken may end up being more harsh in their rhetorical framing than in their implementation, or vice-versa.

3 thoughts on ““Dreamers” Win Right to Pay In-State Tuition in Georgia

  1. The sequel is this. The Georgia Board of Regents announced its intention to appeal, and announced that meanwhile the old rules (mandating out-of-state tuition for all “Dreamers” admitted as students) will remain in place. The follow-on article also pointed out that the incoming Trump administration may cancel the DACA program before this appeal is settled presumably rendering it moot.

  2. Just as DREAMers did not give up when they lost countless times getting DACA, they will not give up so easily now. I am attaching Charles Kuck’s post & brief. They can appeal; DREAMers can — and will — fight back.

    That is the “American” way.

    We could learn a lot from such dreamers…

    Besos, Not Borders
    Ana M. Fores Tamayo, Adjunct Justice

    “DACA Students can now pay in-state tuition in Georgia! The students who will benefit from Judge Tusan’s Order are grateful to have had their position affirmed. They should have been allowed to pay in-state tuition as DACA recipients for the last four years. We are grateful that now these students can pay in-state tuition for the time they remain DACA approved. No one loses here, because no one loses when someone is educated, a principal that America has long sustained.


    Estudiantes con DACA ya pueden pagar matricula estatal en Georgia!!! Ganamos el caso en su favor!!!”

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