Georgia’s ban on undocumented college students puts state on wrong side of history

Angela Stuesse is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida and author of “Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South.” Shannon Speed is associate professor of gender studies and anthropology and director of the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA.

Today, they urge Georgia to change its higher education policies toward undocumented students.

Georgia bars immigrants without legal status — even if those young people attend Georgia k-12 schools all their lives and graduate at the top of their high school class — from enrolling at some of the state’s top universities and paying in-state tuition at others. The affected students and their allies have sued Georgia’s Board of Regents, lobbied at the state Capitol and staged acts of civil disobedience without success.

By Angela Stuesse and Shannon Speed

Since 2011 the Georgia Board of Regents has banned undocumented students from attending Georgia’s top five public universities and prohibited them from qualifying for in-state tuition. On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld this policy in a ruling that condones segregation in higher education.

The court is on the wrong side of history, and its decision hurts Georgia. Here’s why the Regents should lift the bans on undocumented students by repealing Policy 4.1.6 and Policy 4.3.4.

All state universities exist first and foremost to educate the people who live and pay taxes there. According to a recent report by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, immigrants contribute substantially to Georgia’s economy. Immigrants represented 13 percent of the state’s workforce in 2013, and between 2006 and 2010 new immigrant business owners earned a net business income of $2.9 billion. More importantly, undocumented immigrants paid over $352 million in state and local taxes in 2012, the most recent year of available data.

Eight students were arrested at Georgia State University when they refused to leave a protest Tuesday over a Georgia Supreme Court decision rejecting lower tuition for immigrants without legal status. Itzell Delarca and Arizbet Sanchez-Guiterrez. The protesters had occupied the first floor of Centennial Hall since Monday, students and university officials said. Georgia State spokeswoman Andrea Jones said university police asked the protesters to vacate the building Tuesday, and most of them left. "The eight arrested refused to leave," she said in a statement. "Police said the protesters had been disruptive earlier this morning, and they were concerned about possible disruption in the building at the start of the university's workday." Carlton Mullis, the deputy chief of police at Georgia State, said police intended to let students continue their sit-in Monday. "But overnight, at about 1:30 or 2 o'clock, they tried to surge the elevator to go upstairs, which we're not going to allow," Mullis said. "And they started shoving and pushing our police officers and became disruptive." Mullis said the students will be charged with criminal trespassing. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

Eight students were arrested at Georgia State University Tuesday when they refused to leave a protest over a Georgia Supreme Court decision rejecting lower tuition for immigrants without legal status. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute report also demonstrates that these policies undercut the state’s competitiveness in the national and global marketplace. They limit the making of a diverse, attractive workforce, setting Georgia behind 27 other states with more inclusive tuition policies.

They undermine Gov. Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia initiative, which calls for the creation of 250,000 additional college graduates over the next five years. And they fail to capitalize on Georgia’s investment in its K-12 school system by incentivizing talented young people to leave the state in search of an education. Those that do complete college out-of-state are less likely to return to Georgia once they begin their careers.

In fact, it is estimated that Georgia could increase state and local tax revenues by $10 million through a more skilled, higher earning workforce just by lifting the bans on undocumented students. Instead, Georgians are investing in the talents of young people only to watch them go untapped or to lose them to other, more welcoming, places.

In a powerful act of protest against these realities, on Monday undocumented immigrant students and documented student allies representing 12 universities from Georgia and across the country, including Harvard, Smith, Bard, Morehouse, and Spelman, participated in classroom sit-ins at three of Georgia’s flagship public colleges.

At the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, participants occupied classrooms from which undocumented students are banned and together participated in integrated teach-ins about the histories of racialized oppression in the United States. In the act of sitting and learning together in this space, participants protested the ways in which they are caught up in these very processes.

Coordinated by Freedom University, an Atlanta-based freedom school for undocumented students in Georgia, these actions took place the 56th anniversary of the nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960. There, four Black students who integrated a whites-only Woolworth’s counter to protest the store’s policy of racial segregation ignited a youth-led movement that played a crucial role in mobilizing the nation in support of equal rights for all.

More than a half century later, in confirming the Board of Regents’ decision to refuse education to qualified undocumented young people, the Georgia Supreme Court lends support to segregation in higher education not unlike that protested by student leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Greensboro and beyond. Like segregation then, these policies serve to maintain a racialized second class of citizens—in today’s case, undocumented young people—as part of an uneducated, low-wage workforce. As state policy, this is unconscionable.

As university professors we participated in this week’s protests. The young people we encountered are bright, earnest, and eager to learn. They have much to contribute to make Georgia, this country, and the world a better and more prosperous place. They are also brave, determined, and clear about the fact that education is a human right.

We call upon the state of Georgia to stand up not only for what is right, but also for what is in its own economic interest. Rather than forcing undocumented young people into a life of substandard wages that produces little in the way of innovation or economic growth, let’s end Georgia’s legacy of segregation once and for all. Lift the bans and let them shine.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

136 comments
Dan Wiberg
Dan Wiberg

Have people forgotten what the word "illegal" means?! I can't believe this is even a discussion.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Dan Wiberg 

This is a particular group of such immigrants: "DACA" immigrants, or those brought here as babies or children, who grew up in this country, never broke our laws, and were granted by the President resident status for 2 years so they can work without special permits. They argue that this status should also be considered by the state universities. Around 21 states have already agreed and let them pay resident tuition.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Illegal immigrants do pay state taxes. "The belief that illegal immigrants, sometimes referred to as unauthorized immigrants, in the United States pay little or no taxes is far from correct, according to the Immigration Policy Center, which estimates that households headed by illegal immigrants paid a combined $11.2 billion in state and local taxes during 2010."  Note that my link for this is a government source.


http://www.usgovinfo.about.com/od/incometaxandtheirs/a/Illegal-Immigrants-Pay-Taxes-Too.htm

readcritic
readcritic

@OriginalProf Yes, but what about Federal taxes and all the other itemized deductions American workers are charged? Also, as stated by previous writers, much of the earnings of illegals are not put back into the US economy. Money is sent back to Mexico. Studies should be done to establish checks and balances proving that what illegals get through entitlements match what they pay into the system. That would be an eye opener. Just imagine what it costs for their K-12 education alone! Yes it is ethical and humanitarian, but it is not economically feasible to the citizens. Again, we need to take care of our own who sacrifice selflessly before we share so magnanimously with those who barely contribute for so short a time. Older citizens on social security need help too. We can't give everything away. The taxpayers are unhappy with careless spending. It is time to initiate term limits and repeal the "anchor baby" law. Both are no longer serving the public interest.

readcritic
readcritic

@OriginalProf @readcritic But what about our military?

They are citizens who are given the shaft by our own government.

Why should one group be more deserving than another?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@readcritic @OriginalProf 

Military personnel and their families do get veterans preference, for they pay in-state tuition. See Section 7.3.4.1 of the Board of Regents Policy Manual.

Sir Metro
Sir Metro

@OriginalProf Actually, the link is NOT a government source. Government Sources end with .GOV. All links failing to end with .GOV are non-government links.


Second, the article you linked has a subtitle under the headline "But Do These Estimates Reflect Reality?". Well, does it?


Finally, the real question that should be asked is why is it that  Society so much more accepting to an illegal criminal who is not in this country via legal and legitimate channels. Yet, legitimate, law abiding citizens are being treated as criminals if  they dare to oppose the Liberal agenda


Additionally, illegal aliens should NOT be confused with LEGAL Immigrants. Individuals who followed the letter of the Law to enter this country via the legal channels that exist.


Dare to have this thought. Enforce the same laws as the countries the illegals aliens come here from.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Sir Metro @OriginalProf 

Thanks for your corrections re. my link.  There are many others. Here's one from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy: "The 11.4 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States collectively paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes in 2012." 


http://www.itep.org/immigration/

Starik
Starik

@readcritic @OriginalProf These immigrants send money to their former countries to support their families. We should have a rational system for legal immigration of these people and their families, problem solved. 


The military are indeed shafted by our government. Multiple tours in combat. Nobody, not Special Forces, not anybody should be required to do that without a long rest between tours, unless they genuinely volunteer.

NeuUlmer
NeuUlmer

@OriginalProf @readcritic OK, so you want them to only have to pay in-state tuition, even though they come from a different COUNTRY, and we have to pay out-of-state tuition for crossing STATE lines in our own country.  It's blatantly unfair to Americans.

readcritic
readcritic

The most important point is that our politicians have treated our own citizens who have put their lives on the line in military service to our great country horribly. Just ask our veterans or currently enlisted or retired military how they are treated. My relatives must wait months for doctor appointments. It is next to impossible for them to get jobs after they served their term even though they did three or more overseas tours. American Sniper is only the tip of the iceberg. When taxpaying military families are transferred by the service to other states, the children are then charged out-of-state tuition rates because they want to finish their courses in the college where they began their studies or they lose credits. Their school loans are not suspended while they are in service overseas and interest accrues. Those children who are of high school age are not eligible for many of the awards and scholarships because they did not attend one high school for all 4 years. It is a slap in the face to all our brave military family members to give non-taxpaying illegals more rights and benefits than those risking life and limb. This is why citizens are showing more and more discontent with the system. Ask the nurses and doctors and teachers about what goes on today with all the free goodies extended to undocumented "illegals." They can't speak English, but they have advocates who get them medical treatment, glasses, dental work, and other amenities that cost taxpayers big bucks.They are met at the door by someone who will prepare their paperwork. I am all for people wanting to better themselves, but it should be done "legally."  They should have to contribute to the tax system before they reap any benefits or rights. It would be interesting to see what would happen if voters would be allowed to designate where they wanted their tax dollars to go. If the politicians want to support illegals, let it come out of their pockets. I wonder what would happen if voting rights were limited to taxpaying citizens when they submitted their taxes??? We need term limits for all politicians.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Something that isn't noted in the essay is that the lawsuit just decided by the state Supreme Court didn't concern all illegal immigrants but only those who are covered by the federal program DACA: those brought here as babies or children, who grew up in this country and never broke the law. And posters seem to make the same mistake. There's a big difference between the two groups of immigrants.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@readcritic @OriginalProf 

This "law" is Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution. Do you have any idea how difficult it would be to abolish a constitutional amendment that was passed in the19th century? And any such abolishment would not be retroactive.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @readcritic The 14th amendment only guarantees "equal protection" under the law.  Says nothing about giving all persons who happen to be within your borders special privileges.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog @OriginalProf @readcritic 

There's more to Amendment 14 than this. The Citizenship Clause states that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

myother1
myother1

Did they pay income tax? I didn't know you could go to Georga K-12 without citizenship.

Starik
Starik

@myother1 The Supreme Court ruled that they can. Many do pay income tax, if they get paychecks, it gets withheld, like social security taxes. They also pay property taxes on the places where they live, directly if they own and through landlords if they rent.

GB101
GB101

It is always interesting to read articles about illegal immigrants that (1) do not use the word "illegal" and (2) tell us how much we benefit when illegals live here.

class80olddog
class80olddog

What is bad is that a branch of the U. S. government (the Supreme Court- thank you Originalprof) declared that States must educate all illegal alien children within their borders.  Then the Feds refused to do their job and enforce federal immigration law and deport those illegals that they catch.  So it became a huge unfunded mandate ((the Feds are good at those - like IDEA).  How many times have I heard that one of the reasons we spend so much more now on (ineffective) education is because we have so many ESOL students (see, I do listen)?  The Feds won't deport them (or their parents) and then expect the States to pick up the bill.  Well, the Supreme Court only says you have to pay for grades 1-12, not college.  Why would you support an illegal alien going to our colleges, when in theory they cannot even work after they graduate?  I think there should be a process for legalization (not necessarily citizenship) for productive members of the illegal alien society.  However, one often overlooked downside of these members of our society is the huge sums of money that they send out of OUR economy and into Mexico's economy.  That is the number one source of money in Mexico's economy.  If it were our own citizens doing the work, most likely the money would all be spent here.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@class80olddog " Why would you support an illegal alien going to our colleges, when in theory they cannot even work after they graduate?  ... However, one often overlooked downside of these members of our society is the huge sums of money that they send out of OUR economy and into Mexico's economy."


Hey, what the heck?  Asking reasonable questions, raising valid objections.  What are you, some kind of raciest?  You are clearly a morally flawed, heartless person. 

KimGokce
KimGokce

I have had the privilege of working with the category of children in question for a long time. They are my neighbors and I've watched many of them grow up from toddlers and become fine young men and women in spite of our derision; I've watched them become American men and women. One of them shared with me the following comment not long ago upon his earning a spot in 2nd Battalion, USMC:


"I joined the military because this country has done more than enough to help my family and I succeed, even though we were undocumented immigrants. I want to serve this country for that reason, to give back. I choose USMC because it was the toughest and hardest of the branches, they do much more with less."


I know many others who have survived the bigotry exhibited here in GetSchooled (Get Scolded?) comments and gone into our military services and other worthy endeavors just like the rest of our American children. But they did so facing a bigotry I'm comfortable around and I know intimately as a native of Georgia with my own family roots here back to 1810. I grew up marinaded in it. I can see it a mile away and can smell it at three.


Until we clear our heads of blind hatred and greed we will continue to resent these children, our American children, and deny them what they've earned: respect. And when we respect them for what they are rather than what we believe they are, they will rightfully compete for the title of Yellow Jacket, or Bulldog, or Panther ... or Marine. Until that day, count me on the right or the wrong side of history but count on that day arriving because it is as inevitable as Truth, Justice and the American Way.


God bless us all and especially these American children.

readcritic
readcritic

@KimGokce Perhaps a requirement for legal citizenship and school privileges in the US would be pledged service in our military. After serving our great country, then legal status could be granted.

robo2000
robo2000

What part of  "immigrants without legal status" don't you understand, they are ILLEGAL and do not qualify.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@robo2000 

Under DACA, they do have a legal status and are permitted to work here for two years.

Laurie8750
Laurie8750

I'm a democrat.  I'm also a hard working tax paying member of society that hopes to send my child to a decent university in the state I've lived in for over 10 years.   Seeing the protests of a group, whose parents most likely paid nothing into our system except sales tax, complain about their rights, as illegal aliens, to get a spot at one of our premium universities, with reduced tuition...  it makes me extremely angry.  That wall Trump promises to build is starting to look really good.

td1234
td1234

@JBBrown1968 @Laurie1113 Sure they can. It is called doing the right thing is HS to prepare yourself and get scholarships and then work a PT job, live at home and go to a community college for at least the first two years. 

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@Laurie1113 Sadly enough most middle class kids black or white can't pay for college period.

UltraElf
UltraElf

And now, let's examine what part of ILLEGAL and breaking and entering dumbocrat liberals do not understand.  First, when you BREAK into something that is not yours, it is against the law. That is intent to steal. Like breaking and entering a house or a bank. You intend to steal. Stealing is ILLEGAL-it is against the law. When you break into a bank, you are not rewarded with ten thousand dollars. When you take something that is not yours, that is called theft. Think of it this way-you paid $500 for each ticket to see Taylor Swift.  Your seats are in the third row from the stage on the end. You get to your seats and there are two people in them. They have fake tickets. Do you get security to move the people who are in your seats illegally or do you say, oh well, they are undocumented seat occupiers, let's go sit in the balcony? If someone breaks into your house, do you throw a party for them and reward them with cash or do you call the police?  So, think of these illegals as breaking into your house or taking your seats. Do you now see why the rest of us are pissed off that we are paying for law breakers to stay here and STEAL our resources?

Happilyretiredmark
Happilyretiredmark

If they want to go to college, have them do what they have to do to be legal...then sign up for classes and live the American Dream!

td1234
td1234

@Starik @Happilyretiredmark Then they should go back to their country or origin and get in the back of the line to come here legally. Why is it fair to be able to jump the line and receive all the benefits when others have been doing it the right way and waiting in line for years for their turn?

Starik
Starik

@td1234 @Starik @Happilyretiredmark If the "line" is decades long, it's not an option. Fix the screwed up immigration laws so we can absorb the best people from other countries - and by best I mean the most hard-working. 

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@Starik @td1234 @Happilyretiredmark The most hardworking. HAHAHAHAHA

Not hardworking enough to reform their own country. Why? You can't work under the table and get food stamps!HAHHAHAHHA. I am plumber. I see immigrant crews everday! 



CallMeStupid
CallMeStupid

Someone is driving down the road without a license and gets pulled over then .........

UltraElf
UltraElf

@CallMeStupid al and jesse scream racism and profiling. We should be like Mexico. THe police there shoot those breaking into the country.

HILUX
HILUX

Their home countries need them and their extended families overseas miss them. 

So American taxpayers shouldn't tempt illegals into staying here -- with yet another costly giveaway.

JasonLago
JasonLago

What part of illegal are you too stooped to comprehend?

dave87
dave87

To use the term "undocumented" is just modern day libtard horse-sheet, the word is illegal.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@dave87 There are actually some arguments in there, but when they start with "the wrong side of history," it makes your eyes glaze over.

J260
J260

In-state tuition rates are for legal residents of...you know, like...that state.

Tcope
Tcope

I love this quote "All state universities exist first and foremost to educate the people who live and pay taxes there." This shows you the logic this supposed highly educated professor has. It should be replaced with " to educate the legal residents that live and pay taxes there."

White Dinosaur
White Dinosaur

Does Freedom University have a football team?  If not, who cares about this nonsense?  If I am living in England illegally, can I get reduced tuition at the London School of Economics?