Community College Head Defends Illegal Immigrant Policy

The president of the state community college system is standing by the new policy that allows illegal immigrants to enroll on all campuses.

Martin Lancaster says doing otherwise runs counter to a nearly 50-year-old tradition of open admissions.

In a 1,200-word statement sent today, Lancaster defended the change. He says children of people who entered the country illegally shouldn't be punished after attending public schools by being denied the opportunity to better their lives through education.

The new rule overrides a 2004 policy that gave the state's 58 community colleges discretion whether to admit undocumented
immigrants, and nearly two-thirds of the campuses chose to do so.

About 340 students who fall into the category are currently enrolled statewide. At Pitt Community College, 9 illegal immigrants enrolled for the fall semester.

The five leading major-party candidates for governor oppose the change.