Education officials in Georgia voted last week to bar undocumented students from attending the state's five most selective public colleges, becoming only the third state after South Carolina and North Carolina to adopt such a measure.
A whopping 29 students attending these universities are likely to be undocumented. A grand 29 students are providing such touch competition to hypothetical American citizens that the Georgia Regents fear that the 29 citizen students are not getting the education they deserve. To rectify the problem, lets ban qualified students from school. Bravo.
It's unfortunate that those entrusted with improving access to higher education in Georgia are taking the view that excluding certain students is the way to serve the state better.
This new policy does not make any sense. If there's not enough space for equally qualified students, bring in another chair. If that doesn't help, build another school. At the end of the day, education is an investment.
The ban is only the first step. Republican senators are expected to introduce more anti-immigrant measures in the next legislative session.
Educators are supposed to educate and not adjudicate. The university system estimates that only 501 students out of 310,000 attending the 35 campuses are classified as undocumented. The numbers are potentially much lower because many of these are probably United States citizens who have not submitted the required paperwork. Banning qualified students from pursuing their dreams of a higher education at a particular public university is not just hateful, but bad public policy.
Regardless of what the law says, these young people belong here. These children have grown up in our communities and include honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists, homecoming queens, and aspiring teachers, doctors, and U.S. soldiers. Our leaders have recognized that undocumented students brought up in the country are American children for all intents and purposes. If Georgia imposes this ban, another entire class of outstanding, law-abiding high school students will graduate without being able to plan for the future and disappear into an underground economy.
There's also a fallacy in assuming a strict divide between between having documentation and not having paperwork. Sam Chun is a junior accounting major at a University of Georgia and admits that he used to be undocumented. "I just got my citizenship when my dad got his six years ago. I was like everybody else playing around as a kid and studying like everybody else, so just a document didn’t really separate me as a person from everybody else. The school should give a chance for those that don’t have the privilege to be educated.” How can anyone possibly say that students like Chun should be denied a chance to access higher education at a university they are qualified to attend?
It's unfortunate that those entrusted with improving access to higher education in Georgia are taking the view that excluding certain students is the way to serve Georgia better. I hope you'd strongly re-consider this policy and agree that it is detrimental to the purpose and mission of higher education in a public university system.