Macon man reacts to judge’s ruling on immigrant lawsuit

Macon plaintiff reacts to judge’s ruling

alopez@macon.comJune 11, 2014 

A Macon man who was among 39 to file a single lawsuit seeking in-state university tuition for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children said Wednesday he is disappointed the suit has been dismissed.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger said in an order this week that such lawsuits are barred because of sovereign immunity. But Goger was also sympathetic to the situation of the young immigrants and said it was “lamentable” that a court could not resolve the issue.

Raymond Partolan, of Macon, said more than 15,000 “deferred action individuals in the state of Georgia have to wait once again to gain a college education, a college education that they worked hard for and are equally qualified for just like everyone else in the state.”

Attorney Charles Kuck filed the lawsuit and said Goger’s decision would be appealed. Kuck said he and his clients are also considering taking action in federal court.

The 39 young immigrants who filed the suit have been granted temporary permission to stay in the U.S. under an Obama administration policy introduced in 2012. Partolan said Wednesday he has not spoken to Kuck since Goger’s decision was announced.

Currently in Tallahassee, Florida, participating in a summer program for undergraduate students interested in law, Partolan will be a Mercer University senior in the fall. He was the Student Government Association president his junior year.

This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a law that would allow young people who lack legal immigration status access to in-state tuition there.

“It’s very disappointing and disheartening that two states that border each other, like Florida and Georgia, can have such differing policies,” Partolan said.

Because the Florida law requires that students attend a state school for three years and enroll in college within 24 months of high school graduation, crossing the state line would not help Georgia students of college age to gain affordable tuition.

Still, Partolan said younger students lacking legal status “would be smarter to move from Georgia to Florida if they are seeking in-state tuition.”

Partolan arrived in the U.S. as a 1-year-old and because he does not have legal permanent resident status, he would not have been able to afford college had Mercer University not awarded him its Presidential Scholarship, which pays for his full tuition, he said.

After he graduates, Partolan plans to apply to law school so that he can one day practice in the field of public interest.

“I see the law as a calling used to help other people,” he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. To contact writer Andres Lopez, call 256-9751.

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