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WWAY didn't give you all the facts in this story

We haven't heard all of the facts from WWAY on this story. Here is a letter I sent to their editors with information you might be interested in. In your story of Nov. 28th, entitled NC Community Colleges Required to Admit Undocumented Aliens, you failed to include an essential piece of information. You did not report the fact that the undocumented students who will now be permitted to enter Cape Fear and all NC Community Colleges will have to pay out-of-state tuition. When reading the message board comments that followed the story on your website I noticed a pattern that is common among those who have strong anti-immigrant sentiment, a sense that immigrants are coming to the United States and getting services for free. Your failure to include the out-of-state tuition for undocumented students in your story fuels this misconception and does not allow people to form opinions based on all of the relevant facts. It is hard for me to believe that your reporter and editor could not have been aware of this information. In order to be complete, your story should have reported that undocumented students who do enroll in Cape Fear Community College with a full course load would, according to the statement by President of NC’s Community College System, Martin Lancaster, “have to pay $7,465 per year as full-time curriculum students, which is $2,090 more than the legislature gives the community college to educate a full-time student.” Also it is important to note that many of these undocumented students are not opposed to being asked to pay more to attend college. While it might be financially difficult for them, many students understand the call for them to pay out-of state tuition and are willing to scrape together that significantly more expensive tuition in order to reach their goal of attaining a college degree. Also, another piece of information relevant to the financial aspects of this new community college policy is that many undocumented immigrants in North Carolina actually pay income taxes. Many people assume that if a person is working here illegally that they must be working “under the table.” While some immigrants may not be paying taxes on their income, many use a number issued by the IRS, called the ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, to file their taxes. Therefore those immigrants who are paying income taxes to the NC and Federal governments are in fact already supporting the community college system. It is dismaying to me that you failed to include the vital detail of out-of-state tuition in this story. Whether it was ignorance on the part of your reporter and editor, which is hard to believe given the public availability of the statement made by Community College President Lancaster (See http://www.ncccs.cc.nc.us/News_Releases/Statement_Undocumented.htm), or a conscious decision to not include this information, your failure to do so fuels anti-immigrant sentiment that is often based on a lack of factual information. I hope that in future reports on controversial topics such as immigration you will include all of the relevant information so that your viewers and website visitors can form opinions based on all of the facts.

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