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Update: GA House Education Committee passed the bill to ban undocumented students from colleges. We need an onslaught of calls and signatures now to stop the bill from passing in the House!

It seems banning undocumented students from the top five universities in Georgia is not enough. Certain Georgia lawmakers want to go further and eliminate immigrant students who cannot provide proof of citizenship from the entire public university system. If George Wallace was still alive, he'd be quite proud.

A new bill (HB-59) introduced in the Georgia legislature would require the 35 public universities in Georgia to conduct citizenship verification for all students. That means several millions spent conducting regular witch-hunts to ensure that no undocumented student gets access to higher education. It also means millions lost in future productivity as immigrant students and families move out of the state. But more than that, it means cultivating a culture of fear in the South and hundreds of lives cast aside in the shadow of that fear.

Photo Credit: Picket the Board of Regents

Letter to
State Representative Gloria Frazier
State Representative Charles Sims
State Representative Amy Carter
and 17 others
State Representative Roger Bruce
State Representative Gerald Greene
State Representative Stephen Allison
State Representative Dan Gasaway
Georgia State House
Georgia State Senate
State Representative Carl Epps
State Representative Mable Thomas
State Representative Mickey Channell
State Representative Dexter Sharper
State Representative Patricia Gardner
State Representative Kevin Tanner
State Representative Katie Dempsey
State Representative David Casas
State Representative Earl Ehrhart
State Representative Micah Gravley
Georgia Governor
As Georgia students, educators, and community members, we write to express our outrage over the State Legislature’s attempt to ensure only documented residents enter higher education field in Georgia with the proposal of HB 59. All students, regardless of documentation status, contribute to our economy and our culture. Our country and our State should support their efforts to further educate themselves. It is your responsibility to insure that Georgia’s students have opportunities for higher education, and we are deeply disappointed that you have failed to do so.

We urge the State Legislature to continue to allow undocumented students the pursuit of postsecondary education at institutions of their choosing, an action that is in complete compliance with federal law. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stated in unambiguous terms that federal law does not require that states ban or limit enrollment for undocumented students in public post-secondary educational institutions.

The provision of a college education for qualified students who graduate from high schools in
the State is a matter of fundamental fairness. Undocumented college students are by and large
talented high achievers who arrived in the U.S. as children and persevered against the odds to
graduate from high school and secure admission to Georgia colleges. If the Board of Regents
stated concerns about financial burden are primary, it is contradictory to capitalize on the states
expenditure on the undocumented students K-12 education. Facilitating educational access
for students also promotes economic growth; public university graduates would stay in state to
earn higher wages and pay appropriate taxes, and these young people may well regularize their
immigration status in coming years.

In fact, legislation has been introduced to Congress that would allow undocumented students
brought into the United States as children to eventually become permanent residents and
citizens of the United States. The Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM)
Act of 2009, S.729, inspired the formation of the GA DREAMers, and we have won many allies
around the State over the past year. We urge you to rethink the short-sighted, detrimental, and
politically-motivated policies which deny hardworking students further opportunities to contribute
to our society. Instead, let’s move Georgia forward together by respecting the fundamental
American values of hard work, fairness, and opportunity by insuring equal access to higher
education for all qualified students.

Prerna Lal started this petition with a single signature, and now has 866 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.