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Commissioners resolve to oppose educating illegals

By Staff
Vote to send message of opposition to state
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
Beaufort County commissioners voted Wednesday night to send a message to the state saying they oppose the education of illegal immigrants in the N.C. Community College System.
Deatherage said it was the duty of elected officials to “not provide services” to illegal immigrants, though it was “not the right or responsibility” of local government to decide on matters of citizenship.
Out of the 1,560 students enrolled at Beaufort County Community College in the fall semester, two are undocumented, according David McLawhorn, the president of the college. Statewide, out of 800,000 students enrolled at the 58 community colleges, 340 are undocumented according to published sources.
Weighing in after the resolution passed and following considerable ribbing by Deatherage for the three Democratic commissioners’ “liberal ilk,” Commissioner Ed Booth explained his dissension.
Commissioner Hood Richardson said the commissioners should resolve to oppose “community colleges educating illegal immigrants, period.”
A motion by Richardson to draft a resolution against the admission of illegal immigrants to the state’s community colleges eventually passed four to three. Included in the motion was a decision to send the resolution to the county’s state and federal representatives.
Richardson said the admission of illegal immigrants to state public schools and community colleges was a ploy to gain more subsidies by having more students enrolled.
Deatherage agreed saying that the community college system “wants a piece of the illegal immigration pie.”
In a memo circulated in November to the system’s 58 campuses, David Sullivan, the system’s chief lawyer, said the colleges had to admit undocumented immigrants that met basic admissions requirements. Previously the schools were allowed to form independent policies regarding the admission of illegals, but not all have set guidelines.
The letter was drafted in part based on a opinion written by Gov. Mike Easley when he served as the state’s attorney general. Commissioner Robert Cayton, a Democrat and chairman of the Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees, suggested the board table a motion to draft a resolution until a copy of the letter could be found.
A motion by Cayton to table the issue until commissioners could consider the letter was defeated three to four along party lines.
Also in opposition to the resolution, Commissioner Jerry Langley asked why, if illegal immigrants were paying for their education, “then what is the difference between that and them spending money at Wal-Mart?”
Commissioner Al Klemm said the colleges’ policy to admit illegal immigrants encourages illegal immigration.