A Fulton County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking in-state college tuition in Georgia for immigrants who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children.
In an order issued Monday, Judge John Goger said Georgia law bars such lawsuits “due to sovereign immunity.” The attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit — Charles Kuck — said Tuesday he would appeal the judge’s decision.
At the heart of the case is a federal program that has granted the 39 plaintiffs in the lawsuit a temporary reprieve from deportation. The federal government says people granted that benefit are legally present in the U.S. Georgia’s in-state tuition policy requires “lawful presence.”
But state attorneys sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing sovereign immunity shields the Georgia Board of Regents from the lawsuit. They also argued the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program doesn’t affect Georgia’s tuition policies or give the plaintiffs any rights to in-state tuition.
Goger issued his order the same day Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation making people without legal status in the U.S. eligible to qualify for in-state college tuition in Florida. Florida is now among 20 states that have laws or policies allowing people who meet certain criteria to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of their legal status, according to the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center, an immigrant-rights organization.
Georgia’s in-state tuition rate is several thousand dollars below its out-of-state rate.