Illegal immigrants the Obama administration has shielded from deportation may not sue for less expensive college tuition, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled Monday.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court denied an appeal of a lower court’s ruling, saying that the Georgia Board of Regents may not be sued by the 39 plaintiffs seeking in-state tuition as the board is protected by “sovereign immunity,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
Sovereign immunity under the Georgia Constitution “extends to the state and all of its departments and agencies. The sovereign immunity of the state and its departments and agencies can only be waived by an Act of the General Assembly which specifically provides that sovereign immunity is thereby waived and the extent of such waiver,” the court’s ruling reads.
The plaintiffs are illegal immigrants who have received protected status under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. While the administration has provided them with pseudo-legality, under Georgia law, they are expected to pay the same cost for college in Georgia as out-of-state students, rather than the lower, in-state tuition.
The ruling noted that while sovereign immunity extends to an agency body, it does not protect individual members of an agency.
According to AJC, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Charles Kuck, is planning to take the lawsuit to the individual Board of Regents officers and to federal court.
The Board of Regents pointed to existing law in defense of their position, saying in a statement, according to AJC, that their policy is intended to “mirror a new state law,” which ensures “that only students who could demonstrate lawful presence were eligible for certain benefits, including in-state tuition. That law remains in effect, and, therefore, so will our policy.”