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Court Rules Undocumented Immigrants Can’t Sue the Board of Regents


Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

Eduardo Samaniego, shown here at an April 2014 rally, was class president of his high school and recruited by UGA but later told he couldn’t enroll because he is undocumented.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled today that a group of young undocumented students who were raised in Georgia can’t sue the University System Board of Regents.

The lawsuit sought to force the Board of Regents to charge undocumented immigrants who live in Georgia in-state tuition at open-enrollment public colleges on the grounds that the plaintiffs are lawfully present in the U.S. under the Obama Administration’s deferred-action immigration policy, which allows undocumented young people to obtain ID, work, attend school and join the military in the U.S. as long as they stay out of trouble.

Currently, undocumented students are charged much higher international tuition rates even if they went to high school in Georgia. They are also barred from attending UGA and other competitive-enrollment public colleges.

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Board of Regents can’t be sued because it is protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

However, Justice Harold Melton, the opinion’s author, said the students could try to sue regents as individuals.

This post has been corrected.