Georgia Immigration Bill “SB 458” Targets Education

Last May, we reported on our Blog about Georgia’s immigration law House Bill 87. The state now seems to want to take things a step further with Senate Bill 458 (“SB 458”).

State Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), the sponsor of SB 458, is saying that college spots are being taken away from Americans and legal immigrants by illegal/undocumented immigrants – people who, on any account, would not be allowed to work legally in the U.S. after graduation. The bill would prohibit public institutions of higher education from enrolling undocumented persons.

Currently, there are 318,000 students enrolled in the University System of Georgia. About 300 of those students are undocumented; that is 0.094% of all students enrolled. Last year, the number was a staggering 500.

Hank Huckaby, the chancellor of the University System, argues that the current situation does not need to be changed and points out that undocumented students are charged out-of-state tuition, which is three-times higher than in-state tuition. In-state tuition is supported by tax dollars.

In contrast, Senator Loudermilk believes that attending a public university is a privilege only to be granted to citizens and legal immigrants. He also thinks that the current University System is in violation of federal law.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement say federal law does not forbid undocumented immigrants from attending public universities, but that States can decide for themselves on the matter.

A proposal by President Obama might change that. “Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation,” Obama recently said. “Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.”

Noting that “[t]hat doesn’t make sense,” President Obama is championing a route to permanent residency and citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and “earned” their right to stay, e.g. through military service and higher education. Opponents of the bill believe that it encourages and rewards undocumented immigration.

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Reinhard von Hennigs