Immigrant Student Fights School Admission Decision

     (CN) — A Mexican immigrant claims in court the University of North Carolina and one of its two-year high school programs refused to review his application because he is a beneficiary of deferred action immigration policy.
     The plaintiff, a 10th-grade immigrant high school student, is referred to as A.T. in the lawsuit, which he brought through his parent, H.T.
     The family says they left their home in Mexico and moved to North Carolina in 2002, when the boy was just a year old.
     The North Carolina High School of Science and Mathematics is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. It is a two-year public high school in Durham that enrolls 11th graders “through a competitive admissions process,” A.T.’s complaint states.
     Despite federal authorization to live and work in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the high-achieving student was denied consideration due to the schools’ claims that they could not classify him as a “legal resident,” according to the complaint.
     “Defendants’ refusal to review AT’s application for admissions is based on their policy and practice of considering as ineligible for admission otherwise qualified applicants identified as DACA recipients,” the lawsuit states.
     A.T. argues that such actions are unconstitutional and that the state school system has no right to circumvent his federal classification as a legal resident.
     The student’s current weighted GPA is higher than 4.0, and he is first in his class at a Durham County high school, according to the May 18 lawsuit, but he says such achievements are being ignored.
     A.T. asks the Middle North Carolina Federal Court to declare that the schools’ “policy and practice of refusing to review the merits of [his] admission application as well as the admission applications of all other Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals grantees is unlawful and invalid” because it violates equal protection clauses in both the United States and North Carolina Constitutions.
     The student is represented by Jack Holtzman of the North Carolina Justice Center in Raleigh.
     A University of North Carolina spokesperson told Courthouse News that the university hopes “to announce the hiring of outside counsel in the litigation shortly.”

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