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Undocumented students demand in-state tuition

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Protesters rallied outside Attorney General Roy Cooper's office to demand in-state tuition for undocumented students. Protesters rallied outside Attorney General Roy Cooper's office to demand in-state tuition for undocumented students.

While many families were home enjoying the last of the holidays, undocumented students demanded lower tuition rates on the front steps of the attorney general's office Wednesday.

"One state, one rate" was the rally cry of students who gathered outside North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's office Wednesday to demand in-state tuition rates for undocumented students.

"He's holding our diplomas hostage, so we're here today to remind him -- on the first day of 2014 -- that we're not forgetting," said NC Dream Team co-founder Viridiana Martinez. "He can't just remain silent on this issue."

The NC Dream Team is a youth-led organization that fights for the rights of undocumented immigrants in the state. Martinez said she's been campaigning for more than a month for undocumented students to be treated like any other in-state student.

"We're wondering wha the hold-up is with Attorney General Cooper," Martinez said. "He was requested an opinion on whether a student who holds DACA, Deferred Action from Childhood Arrivals, is able to obtain in-state tuition."

Keny Murillo, one of the main organizers of the movement, said he's working three jobs to pay for his out-of-state tuition at Wake and Durham Tech.

"It's so expensive. We just can't afford it," Murillo said. "The rate is so outrageous; we need in-state tuition now. We need Attorney General Roy Cooper to give a favorable opinion now."

Murillo said, ""I want to practice medicine here. This is my home; I don't want to go anywhere else."

The issue of whether undocumented students should be granted in-state tuition is hot topic across the country.

Virginia recently made national headlines after the State Council of Higher Education said DACA is not legal status. The council said DACA only defers action, meaning those granted the status are temporarily allowed to be in the United States. DACA does not make them legal residents.

That is the main point of contention -- the fine line between someone who legally immigrated to the United States and someone given the right to stay in the country temporarily.

WNCN reached out to Cooper's office for his take on the issue but he has not responded to the request.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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