Georgia State Schools Ban Illegal Immigrants
Starting next fall, illegal immigrants will be banned from certain state colleges and universities in Georgia after a vote today by the state board of regents. The ruling will impact the most selective schools in Georgia, including the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, because those schools have turned down qualified students based on space issues. The reasoning, seemingly, is to prevent illegal immigrants from taking spaces that could go to legal residents of the state.
The move is not completely unprecedented: South Carolina bans illegal immigrants from all public colleges. Still, most states allow illegal immigrants to attend and require them to pay out-of-state tuition, even if they grew up and attended high school in the state. Federal law bans illegal immigrants from receiving tuition benefits, but some states allow illegal immigrants who attended local high school for at least three years to pay in-state tuition. (These states are California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Washington.)
This has been challenged from both sides in California, where out-of-state students at California schools filed a lawsuit challenging the practice of allowing illegal immigrants to pay lower tuition rates. Meanwhile, immigrant rights groups have pushed for the California Dream Act, which would extend financial aid to illegal immigrants eligible for in-state tuition in the state, despite repeated vetoes from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). While Republicans have called for California to save money by banning illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition, a report this spring found only one percent of students enrolled at California schools are in the country illegally.
What does this mean for the 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools each year? They will have fewer options at potentially higher costs, which could deter some from attending college. The DREAM Act, a stalled legislative effort that would allow some illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to earn legal status, could theoretically improve these odds by removing the federal ban on tuition benefits to illegal immigrants. Still, it would remain in the hands of the states to determine whether to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students.