State policies on illegal immigrants force APS valedictorian to leave Georgia for college

The valedictorian of an Atlanta high school is seeking donations to pay for college because he is not eligible for HOPE due to his immigration status. Nor can Marlon Portillo attend Georgia Tech or University of Georgia, both of which accepted him, because of a 2011 policy that bars illegal immigrants from any University System of Georgia institutions that turned away academically qualified students for the past two years.

In essence, the policy keeps illegal immigrants from the state’s most selective public colleges. Students may attend other colleges in the system, but must pay out-of-state tuition. They cannot receive HOPE.

So, Marlon is going to a Tennessee college willing to underwrite part of the costs, but he must come up with the rest.

Federal law does not bar illegal immigrants from attending public colleges, leaving it up to individual states to “decide for themselves whether or not to admit illegal aliens into their public post-secondary institutions.”

Georgia, a state in desperate need of more STEM majors, has a policy that is now compelling the valedictorian of a science-based high school to leave the state to continue his education.

Carver has set up a Go Fund Me account for Marlon. “At Carver, we know that our students just need the opportunity to be successful,” wrote parent liaison Tonnesha Edmond in an email. “Marlon must have funding to get his opportunity. As the valedictorian who has already completed two years of college during high school due to dual enrollment, he may still miss out on a golden opportunity.”

Here is what Marlon wrote on his fund-raiser site:

My name is Marlon Portillo and I am the Valedictorian for the Carver Health Sciences and Research Class of 2015. I have worked hard the last four years to make it to this point.

I have been dual enrolled in my high school and Atlanta Metropolitan College since my junior year. I was initially accepted to several schools including the University of North Georgia, Tuskegee University, South Carolina State University, Fort Valley State University, Kennesaw State University, and Georgia State University.

I was also accepted to the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. I even qualify for full tuition scholarships for both schools because I am the valedictorian but because of my immigration status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA) I am unable to attend these schools or receive scholarships and federal funding.

Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee did offer me a scholarship despite my status, but I must come up with the rest of the money over the next four years. I am asking that you all please donate to my campaign so that my dream of a college education can become a reality.

 

 

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480 comments
truegeorgian
truegeorgian

How many people here are actually Georgians? By Georgians I mean someone whose family has actually lived in this state for more than the past 150 years. Maybe if you're not actually Georgians than you shouldn't have any say about what goes on in Georgia's school system, especially you people who think that it is wrong that this illegal immigrant is not getting his education paid for by the taxpayers. The fact is that illegal immigrants have no rights whatsoever in this country. They don't have civil rights, they don't have rights to an education, medical care, police protection, they have no rights at all. This is because there is a separation of church and state in this country, so human beings have no intrinsic value in and of themselves other than what they can provide for the state. It doesn't matter that this student wants to major in a STEM discipline, there are plenty of students who are legal residents of Georgia who are willing to attend Georgia Tech and major in STEM fields of study. In reality this country is split into citizens and non-citizens, citizens have rights and non-citizens do not. It is honestly disgusting that any college in the United States would accept an illegal immigrant period. 

BearCasey
BearCasey

I'm sure glad that I quit involving myself in these brawls.  LOL

Ms. Curious
Ms. Curious

Why should the limited funds be used on an undocumented person?  Really folks.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

There's a further news article in today's My AJC. Some additional detaiIs seem somewhat odd. 


As I speculated earlier, Mr. Portillo got bad advice from his high school. "The news that Portillo couldn’t attend Georgia’s top schools shocked his counselor at Carver School of Health Sciences and Research, Keala Edwards-Cooper. His parents pay taxes, she said, so she believed he would have no problem enrolling in college." The Regents' decision about illegal immigrants attending USG schools has been widely publicized since 2010, with several demonstrations in the Regents office and a lawsuit. The issue generally has been taken up in all the states for several years. Hard to believe she hadn't heard the news. Hard to believe she was so unaware of laws about illegal immigrants in general.


Also, Fisk University has offered him a scholarship covering half of the $32,000 tuition and fees. But his GoFundMe campaign asks for the full tuition amount rather than the balance of $16,000, "in case Fisk's full amount doesn't come through." So he doesn't trust Fisk? What will he do with the excess amount collected if they do honor their word?


A curious case.


anothercomment
anothercomment

This counselor should be immediately fired by APS for not knowing this basic information. Every Valdictorian and Saltorian should be advised to apply to all the Ivies and next tier top privates as these schools have the most financial aid. Schools like Princeton make it clear that those who get in and the families make under $60k or is $125k will have no debt all covered by grants. I know some Students of well of families that did not qualify for Aid that were just in the top 10% that have 75% at Tulane and Peperdine. My sisters son was Valdictorian and got a 100% full scholarship to NYU. ( his father is a Doctor)

Lexi3
Lexi3

@anothercomment 


If our subject was Ivy League material they would have sent an armored truck to him by now. While he could be the next Stephen Hawking, the fact he is valedictorian at Carver is no guarantee he meets upper tier criteria, even for "disadvantaged" applicants. If his test stats were eye-popping they would have appeared in this column.


Best of luck to him, though. He has high expectations.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

Some posters have been assailing Georgia and the Regents, but as Mr. Portillo realizes, they aren't the only ones saying "no".


"If I have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), can I still complete a FAFSA?

....DACA students are not eligible for federal student aid,"


https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/non-us-citizens


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Starik 


To change the law and/or the Regents, Georgians will have to change the political party of the governor and that will take some doing in Georgia.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Starik @OriginalProf @AlreadySheared 

Since the Regents have 7-year terms and they're staggered since they were appointed by different governors, it would take quite a while to change a voting majority, even if by some magic the state elects a Democratic governor.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@AlreadySheared 

A student immigrant group brought this issue of the legality of DACA students to the Georgia Supreme Court last year, attacking the Regents' definition of "legal resident."So they were assailing the Regents.   Didn't work. The case was decided against them.

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @Starik @AlreadySheared


" it would take quite a while to change a voting majority, even if by some magic the state elects a Democratic governor."


Is that such a bad thing? Does it not make planning and budgeting more consistent and stable if we require pretty broad public agreement on major,sweeping policy changes? Otherwise, we could lurch from polar opposite policy to polar opposite policy every time the political winds shifted in Georgia.Would people inside the system welcome that? Would they really like to change these types of BIG polices due to factors way outside their control? 



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

RE: Political awareness concerning how the political powers-that-be operate in Georgia for Original Prof, and for others from below, who missed the point:


Here's an political analogy to help you understand.  Saying that the Regents keep illegal immigrants out of Georgia's public universities so that one should not blame the state of Georgia but should instead blame the Regents is tantamount to saying that teachers and state employees should not blame the state of Georgia but instead should blame Georgia's Department of Community Health for lowering the medical benefits of state workers.  Technically you may be correct, but you are seeing only the trees (certain rigid details) not the forest (how political persuasion works in reality) when you think like that.  


The Republican governor here (elected by the people of Georgia) in fact tells or "strongly urges" the Department of Community Health (which is not responsible to the voters directly) how the medical benefits of state teachers will fare yearly, and then the Dept. of Community Health carries out the Governor's wishes or ideology (who was elected by the people of the state), just as the Governor (and now Georgia's legislature) keep the state of Georgia from expanding Medicaid as part of the ACA, which adversely affects working class Georgians (without power). When the teachers asserted their rights (as voters with power) regarding their medical benefits, the Governor wisely adjusted to the power of those voting teaching and changed his thinking on medical benefits for the teachers.  After that, the Department of Community Health changed the medical legalities which would implement in the state of Georgia the teachers benefits.  The Department of Community Health was not directly ordered to change its rules for the year by the voting teachers, but by the Governor, who represents the state of Georgia and the thinking of the majority of Georgians who elected him to office.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings 

Yes, of course.  That's obvious.  Why do you think I don't know all that? I was alluding to the practicality of political pressures. The Regents can operate scot-free without any concern for the political consequences...cats' paws for those who appointed them, one might say.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


They can technically, but if you don't think that the Regents are influenced by those who put them in the positions of power they hold in Georgia, you are naive to process, which is over and beyond knowing the "facts."

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 


Don't be so condescending.  Why do you think I would be ignorant of the Regents and Georgia's political process? I taught for 27 years at one of Georgia's research universities, and believe me, I am well aware of what influences the Regents. 


But enough.  A pointless digression.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 

Indeed. Remove the beam that is in thy eye before complaining of the mote in thy neighbor's eye. Your entire series of posts above is condescending, beginning with the one: "RE: Political awareness concerning how the political powers-that-be operate in Georgia for Original Prof, and for others from below, who missed the point..." 


But I am not going to continue this exchange that has, once again when someone disagrees with your ideas, devolved into personal insults. 


I agree with you that the Regents are influenced by the political party of the politicians who appointed  them. Unlike you, I question the specifics of this APS valedictorian's story.  Enough.  Adieu.


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


You lecture me as if you are my superior, Original Prof, and you cannot see your condescension in doing so (for I do not believe that you are superior in that my worldview is that of a pure egalitarian).  From your posts, you seem blind to some things, to me, and that is why I took the time to give you, and others, details about political process in Georgia.  Your words had not indicated that you understood politics, in the degree of impact, to which I ended up explaining so that I simply took time to explain. (You had recently mentioned that another professor probably did not understand the politics of pensions and 401ks for teachers in Georgia.)


It seems to me that you are the person who is reacting negatively to criticism more than I.  But as you say, "Enough."  We simply have differing worldviews and that truth transcends politics in Georgia and the Regents' decision-making.

popacorn
popacorn

@MaryElizabethSings

If you possessed any worldview at all, you wouldn't have been such an integral part of that incompetent bunch that brought DeKalb schools from the penthouse to the outhouse. 

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf  Enough of your blather, MES. You have yet to answer for your culpability in the decay of the DeKalb County Schools. You joined DCSS in 1971 when it was the best system in Georgia. You retired in 2000 and, in the intervening 29 years, you and your colleagues drove it from best to near the bottom of the heap where it now resides.

You lecture everyone who disagrees with you as if you are part of the solution, but it seems to me you are a part of the problem, quite possibly a major part.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaryElizabethSings

Who says we are "blaming" the Board of Regents?  Many of us are celebrating that they and the politicians finally got something right.


If anyone is to be blamed for the sorry state of affairs regarding the tens of millions of illegals in this country, it is with the sorry politicians in Washington (Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr, and now, especially Obama) who have ignored the problem for almost THIRTY years.


Finally, regarding @Maureen's title, state policies did not force this illegal alien student to leave Georgia for college.  He could have went to any of the less competitive colleges and paid full tuition.  No, he wants the benefits of citizenship while being an ILLEGAL ALIEN.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@AlreadySheared


You are absolutely correct.  I started to write what I knew was grammatically correct.  Yet, I did not write what I knew I should have written because I told myself that it would not "sound right" to readers.  Shame on me!  I had always told my students that they could not simply rely upon what "sounds right" to be certain that they were grammatically correct. And, here I do the same thing that I had always warned my students against doing - relying on sound, instead of grammatical rules, to determine proper grammatical usage. 


Thank you for pointing out my original error. I should have written my incorrectly stated sentence, above, thusly:


"It is not I who am condescending."  

AhmirHaddad
AhmirHaddad

Excellent...the law is working!  It prevents someone here illegally from getting a spot in one of our state's two flagship universities in place of a legal citizen. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@AhmirHaddad 

More than Georgia Tech and UGA: also Georgia State, Georgia Regents University, and Georgia College and State University. (And that's not just legal citizens, but also legal residents such as those with green cards.)

redweather
redweather

Wow!  This topic sure has attracted a lot of new posters who are super interested in education.  408 comments.  That's got to be some kind of record.  Next topic up for discussion:  the cross-dresser who wants to play left tackle.

Starik
Starik

We need to rationalize the immigration laws to judge legal immigration based on need, our need for the skills the immigrants have.  We need some types of skilled and unskilled workers.  We do need to emphasize  compliance with the law but people who are brought in by their parents are not responsible for the sins of their parents. If they were, why not prohibit state benefits like in-state tuition for children who are the product of criminal statutes like fornication and adultery?

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Starik if you don't LIVE(LEGAL) in the state or pay taxes in the state then you pay out of state tuition. How difficult is that to understand?

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Starik fake SS cards maybe. the taxes you mentioned are not where money comes from for EDUCATION. That comes from mainly your PROPERTY taxes.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@TheDeal2HAHAH yes they do but when 3 families live in 1 apt. that defeats the purpose.

Starik
Starik

@bu2 @Starik @POAD5150 Of course, but the people - citizens - who use their labor are violating the law too, and evading taxes. Most of the immigrants would work regular, taxpaying jobs if they could.

Starik
Starik

@POAD5150 @TheDeal2 The property tax is the same regardless of the number of people living in a property.

Starik
Starik

@POAD5150 @Starik So, should we refund the SS contributions to them? Or should we just legalize them and everything will be fine.

bu2
bu2

@Starik @bu2 @POAD5150 

They aren't violating the law if they are contract labor.  Which is what a lot of it is-Nanny/babysitting, day labor, landscaping, cleaning services, other contract services, possibly some of the farm labor.  The ones with fake social security cards are paying taxes.

bu2
bu2

@Starik @bu2 @POAD5150 

You don't see as much of it here in Atlanta.  You see a lot more in South Georgia (farming) and the southwest-Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California.

Starik
Starik

@POAD5150 @Starik If they buy food, clothing, gasoline or anything else they pay taxes.  If they work they have Social Security and Medicare deducted from their salaries. If they rent, the rent includes taxes; if they own a home they pay property taxes. If they have resided here long enough to be residents for tuition purposes they should get it.


Now we do have people, citizens, who don't work, and steal property or sell drugs to "get money." They do  pay some sales taxes (except for shoplifting), consume prison and jail space and require an expensive court system to process them.  Good immigrants, with or without the proper paperwork, deserve better.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Starik @POAD5150 @TheDeal2 


The property tax millage rates are set with an eye towards expected expenditures for public schooling. If on average there are four people living in an apartment when rates are determined, but complexes of illegals where they live ten to an apartment, those folks are underpaying "their" share of taxes. Further exacerbating the problem, non-English speakers cost about twice as much to educate as natives, for added language classes, interpreters, lunch (and often breakfast) "assistance," and typically intensive remedial assistance.

bu2
bu2

@Starik @POAD5150 


A lot of the ones who work do so with cash.  So the cash economy is avoiding taxes.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Starik @POAD5150 


Sure. Why worry about the moral hazard involved in rewarding that behavior? Many [all] are committing fraud on the system by using valid numbers belonging to others, alive and dead.


And, as many know, and many don't, the social security scheme itself is a redistributive Ponzi mechanism, unsustainable from an actuarial perspective. People at the bottom of the pay scale, typically unskilled laborers, receive disproportionately high payments at retirement, in light of the "contributions" they make to the scheme. So, let's encourage millions more to enter and defraud (or drain) the system, at least as long as they and their offspring are reliable democrat voters.