Representative George Cleveland (R – Onslow) has introduced HB 11, a bill that would ban undocumented immigrants from North Carolina’s public universities and community colleges. The NC DREAM Team is asking for opponents of this bill to call Speaker Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) and urge him to prevent the bill from making it to the House floor (call 919-733-3451).
Yesterday a member of the NC DREAM Team sent an e-mail expressing their disappointment in the legislation. “It is saddening that one of our state’s representatives would go out of their way to deny a segment of our state’s population the right to educate and better themselves,” said Ian Smith-Overman, the member who sent the e-mail. “I believe your decision to sponsor this bill is short-sighted at best and vindictive at its worst.”
Rep. Cleveland responded within five hours. “I find it revolting that an American thinks that we should financially support people that cannot legally work in this country through taxpayer subsidized education,” he said. “If you feel so strongly about this issue find an illegal and pay for their education at a private university.”
The response from Rep. Cleveland demonstrates that he is not aware that the North Carolina Department of Revenue collects income tax from undocumented immigrants using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs, which have been issued by the Internal Revenue Service since 1996. The NC DREAM Team believes that undocumented immigrants not only have a right to attend public post-secondary education in North Carolina, but should also only pay in-state tuition as tax-paying state residents.
While the North Carolina economy depends heavily on immigrant labor, particularly in the agriculture and meat-processing industries, the state has continued to march toward policies that harass the communities working in those industries or prohibit their economic advancement through education. In the past ten years, agreements between immigration officials and local police departments that expand police power such as 287(g) and Secure Communities have continued to proliferate across the state; drivers’ licenses are no longer issued to immigrants without visas; and undocumented youth who most often had no say in their migration to North Carolina as minors are forced to pay out-of-state tuition and register last in community colleges.