Georgia Dems propose cheaper tuition for illegal immigrants
- A new bill proposed by Georgia Democrats could grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
- He claims this effort will benefit the state economically.
The Georgia legislature is considering a bill that would extend in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students, including Dreamers.
Dreamers are immigrants who brought to the U.S. illegally as children but who currently have temporary legal status as a result of one of former President Barack Obama's executive orders. The Supreme Court is set to take up the legality of that order later in 2020.
Democratic House Minority Leader Bob Trammel, who sponsored the bill along with five other Democratic lawmakers, insists that illegal immigrant students' ineligibility for in-state tuition is negatively impacting the state because non-citizen students will go elsewhere for college.
“As a consequence, we’re losing talent in Georgia to other states,” Trammell said, according to The Covington News.
"It's just a fairness issue," Trammell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Dalton State College student Christian Olvera expressed that this bill could provide an array of opportunities for Dreamers like himself. Olvera’s parents came from Mexico, and as a Dreamer is currently safe from deportation. He said he has struggled to pay tuition in college.
“In order to keep Georgia the No.-1 business state, we’d love to keep those students coming out of high schools with good GPAs and bright futures,” Olvera said in an interview, adding that the current legislation is a “dream crusher.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Georgia is one of three states with laws specifically barring illegal immigrant students from receiving in-state tuition, along with Arizona and Indiana.
The University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia College and State University all have rules in place banning illegal immigrant students from attending their institutions. Trammell’s proposal would not have any effect on the policies of these individual institutions.
According to Citizen Path, an online resource for illegal immigrants seeking documentation, “there is no federal or state law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges, public or private. No federal or state laws require students to prove citizenship in order to enter U.S. institutions of higher education.”
However, as Campus Reform has previously reported, there is a law that prohibits "preferential treatment" to illegal immigrants in post-secondary education unless that treatment is extended to all citizens and U.S. nationals.
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident," the law states.
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Experts have argued that just because Dreamers have been granted temporary legal status and currently reside in the country, they are still technically illegal immigrants.
“The President and the Attorney General have an obligation to enforce every provision of the United States’ comprehensive federal immigration regulations—including the federal law prohibiting state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens ‘on the basis of residence within the State.’”
“Under federal immigration law, simply living in the United States for an extended period does not entitle one to lawfully present status — a fact usually overlooked by DACA advocates," Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans A. von Spakovsky and Heritage Young Leaders Program participant Caleb Morrison wrote.
David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, opposes the Georgia bill, insisting that it is not focused on a broad spectrum of non-citizens, but rather, the narrow spectrum of illegal immigrants.
“It is the comparatively narrow category of illegal aliens, resident in your state, who have HS diplomas from schools in your state,” North said, exclaiming that this is an attempt to ‘nullify’ immigration laws.
He continued saying that “it makes it easier for illegal aliens to stay in this country, and leads down a slippery slope toward no immigration limits at all,” and that the legislation gives students a “cash-break” that ultimately amounts to being "rewarded" for their behavior.
North addressed the state as a whole by saying that, should the bill pass, the state would be valuing illegal immigrants over its own residents.
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