Protesters to Trident Tech: 'We demand admission for Dreamers'

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Several people protested outside of Trident Technical College on Tuesday to demand the college grant admission for so-called "Dreamers."

In June 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allows people who entered the country illegally as children to remain and work without fear of deportation for at least two years. It also allows those applicants who meet the criteria temporary work authorization and the ability to enroll in higher education.

Deferred action does not provide an individual with legal status, though.

Israel Ortega, a 27-year-old who meets the DECA requirements, is not allowed to register at Trident Tech.

"I want them to know we are legal here and have the right to attend college, Ortega said. "I just want to do something better in life."

Trident Tech says they are in compliance with South Carolina's law, which does not allow students are not U.S. citizens to enroll in classes.

"We want to be the place of opportunity for all students who want to improve their lives through education and training. However, we have no choice when it comes to complying with state and federal law," said college president Dr. Mary Thornley.

Ortega and people with the Latino Association of Charleston see the issue quite differently. They say the college is not in compliance with a national immigration policy.

Diana Salazar, president of the association says she received eight phone calls from people who were denied admission.

"The documents are legal, the process is legal, and it's been approved by immigration offices," she said.

While they feel there is a misunderstanding of the law, Trident said they are following state order.

"At this moment we believe we interpreting the law in the manner we have been directed to do and by the people at the state level that make those type of decisions," Dean of Enrollment and Management Services John Jamorgowicz said.

Jamorgowicz said the issue has been discussed at Trident but the school is not the agency to interpret how a state law should be applied.

"Unless we receive clarification indicating here are some amendments and ways we would like you to apply the law in this situation then we will continue to do what's been identified as the proper way to proceed," he said.

A spokesperson for the South Carolina Attorney General's Office said this is the first they've heard about the issue.

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