For Immediate Release
February 20, 2013

Contact: Victoria Middleton, Executive Director
(843) 720-1423, ext 3

The ACLU of South Carolina has called on the SC Commission on Higher Education (CHE) to clearly instruct institutions of higher learning in the state that young people awarded participation in the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are eligible under South Carolina law to enroll in public colleges.

On February 7 , Susan Dunn, legal director of the ACLU of SC sent a detailed letter to the SC Commission on Higher Education which set out the legal reason why DACA participants are eligible under SC law to enroll in public colleges. This action followed the unsuccessful attempt of DACA students to enroll in technical colleges around the state, and their subsequent appeal to the ACLU of SC for assistance.

Under SC law an immigrant who is present unlawfully is not eligible to enroll in any public institution of higher education. However, the determination of lawful presence is made by the federal government, not by the institution of higher learning or by the state, and the determination of lawful presence made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is binding upon South Carolina. Recent DHS communications clearly state that participants in DACA are to be considered lawfully present during the period of deferral.

Yesterday CHE instructed Trident Technical College in North Charleston to allow DACA participants to enroll. It also sent out a memorandum yesterday which states that SC institutions of higher education must accept the Federal determination of lawful presence. The memorandum was sent to the ACLU of South Carolina in response to its February 7th letter. The ACLU has since requested further clarification from CHE to ensure that lawfully present students are not blocked from enrolling in higher education institutions in South Carolina.

The following quote can be attributed to Victoria Middleton, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina: “We are pleased that the Commission on Higher Education has taken steps to ensure that young people who were brought to the U.S. as children can enroll in higher education in South Carolina to advance themselves and their families and contribute still more positively to our state.”