Condemn HB-59 - Don't Let Georgia Ban Immigrant Students
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
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.