Georgia’s policy on undocumented students: ‘A practical loss and a moral failure’

Ashley Goodrich is a full-time high school social studies teacher and a doctoral student at the University of Georgia in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Theory and Practice.

In this essay, she says Georgia’s policy banning undocumented students from the top research campuses and requiring them to pay out-of-state tuition at other public colleges hurts the students and the state.

By Ashley Goodrich

It’s that time of year when the much anticipated college acceptance and dreaded rejection letters are arriving in the mail. For many high-achieving graduating seniors, their letters won’t be coming from schools in Georgia because they’re undocumented.

What keeps them from enrolling or even applying to Georgia’s public universities? Discriminatory policies passed by Georgia’s policymakers—actions meant to keep some of our children, educated in Georgia, from being able to afford a postsecondary education in our state. While other states have overturned restrictions on applying for state financial aid and in-state tuition, our legislators have done just the opposite.

But Georgia’s undocumented students refuse to halt their dreams. Some choose to leave the state to continue pursuing their education and as a result, Georgia is losing talented people because of discriminatory policies. Others attend school close to home, but take longer than four years to graduate due to exorbitant tuition costs.

Aldo Mendoza, 20, has grown up in Athens, but cannot attend the University of Georgia because of his immigration status.

Aldo Mendoza, 20, grew up in Athens, but cannot attend the University of Georgia because of his immigration status.

Meet 20-year-old Aldo Mendoza. Although Aldo has lived in Athens, Georgia, for most of his life, graduated from one of its public schools, and holds a worker’s permit and driver’s license through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, state policymakers refuse to treat him equally when it comes to attending the state’s public colleges and universities.

Aldo’s opportunities to pursue higher education in Georgia were severely limited in 2008 when the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 492 that denies in-state tuition and Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship to undocumented immigrants. Two years later, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents signed off on policy 4.1.6 which bans college-bound students from applying to Georgia’s top five public universities, including the University of Georgia. Recently Georgia’s Supreme Court denied students with DACA, like Aldo, the opportunity to sue the Board of Regents for in-state tuition..

By growing up in Athens, Aldo has been part of UGA programs that partner with Clarke County K-12 schools, like the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education’s SALSA program. “All my life I’ve been involved with UGA,” says Aldo.

After the onslaught of these discriminatory decisions, Aldo feels deceived. “I basically grew up around UGA and when the ban happened [as a high school junior], I felt like I was being stabbed in the back because all my life I grew up around it and now I’m unable to attend. Some of my peers, well my best friends, go to UGA.”

Now, Aldo attends the University of North Georgia. He takes two to three courses a semester. He would prefer to take a regular course load, but he can’t afford it, even with his part-time jobs. Because of SB 492, he does not qualify for in-state tuition. Therefore he would have to pay $19,748 (out-of-state tuition) for a full academic year instead of $6,206 (in-state tuition). That’s three times more than his high school classmates are paying.

Instead of giving up, Aldo has become a leader in the undocumented youth movement through Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance and ULead Athens, an organization that provides college and career guidance to undocumented students. “Before then, I was kind of iffy about going to college because in the back of your mind, you’re undocumented. Your parents push you to go to college, but you don’t feel like you can.”

Many educators, students, parents and community members aren’t aware of these policies. And undocumented students, like Aldo, don’t realize the impact of these policies until they start applying to schools.

What can we do to support our undocumented students in their pursuit of a postsecondary education?

Schools need to provide college and career guidance specific to the needs of our undocumented student populations in their advisement and counseling programs. One place to start is the national organization Educators for Fair Consideration, which has a clearinghouse of online resources for educators.

Students can be allies in the undocumented student movement. High school students in Athens have done just that, by organizing DREAMfest to educate the community about these policies. UGA students, faculty, staff, and alumni signed a petition asking President Jere Morehead to lift the ban. In February, college students from UGA, Harvard, Smith, Bard, and other colleges worked in solidarity with Freedom University to stage integrated classroom sit-ins on UGA, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State campuses.

Parents, family, and friends of graduating seniors can give support to undocumented students in their pursuit of a postsecondary education by donating to the ULead scholarship fund.

What can we all do? Contact members of the Board of Regents and your representatives urging them to pass legislation that will overturn these anti-immigrant policies.

In response to Georgia’s anti-immigrant legislation, a group of University System of Georgia academics criticized policymakers for relegating a whole group of young people to a permanent caste of lower status, unable to obtain an education and condemned to work for low wages in the shadows of the economy.  Their undeveloped talents represent both a practical loss and a moral failure that the state of Georgia can ill afford.”

We should all follow the lead of this group of professors and condemn the continued segregation of our public colleges and universities.

 

Reader Comments 0

166 comments
Roberta Cromlish
Roberta Cromlish

This is really just another ploy to give ILLEGALS the right to vote the next step.

095onemanarmy
095onemanarmy

Well the thing is that if I am not wrong, the Constitution still requires you to be a US citizen to be able to vote. I know for a fact that will never change and if that said "ILLEGAL" later on in life because a US citizen through the right paths then it is their right as a citizen like you to vote. Unless you want to create a system where you have a two class of citizens making one a second citizen. Well who do you consider as "second class citizens"? Are you going to begin to classify certain people like they did under the Soviet Union? They are asking to be judged by their scholastic merit, meaning grades and what not, rather than their status.  

class80olddog
class80olddog

So as I read it, a Mexican national can apply for a green card - for unskilled labor the wait is about six years, then come to the US, work for five more years, learn English and US Civics and become a citizen.  Eleven years for a legal pathway to citizenship.  Does not sound unworkable.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

Ashley - thanks for a well-written, provocative post.  I wholeheartedly agree with her POV.   Georgia has been VERY inconsistent with its policies and absolutely discriminatory.   It's ok for these kids to go to our public schools, but then we charge them out of state tuition and make it impossible to attend our universities?   Great way for Georgia to destroy dreams and ensure that some quality intellectual capital leaves the state forever.


Thanks, General Assembly.   You really know how to undermine the America that made us a great nation and leader of the civilized world.

class80olddog
class80olddog

"It's ok for these kids to go to our public schools"  It is NOT Ok that these illegal immigrants go to our schools, where they take lots of money requiring ESL teachers.  However, the Federal government will not deport them and their parents, and then the Supreme court ruled that if we let them stay, we have to educate them.  So don't make it sound like we CHOSE to do this - we were FORCED by the Feds.  What SHOULD have happened is that they were deported immediately, and then this problem would never come up.  See what not enforcing laws can do to you?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@living-in-outdated-ed " You really know how to undermine the America that made us a great nation and leader of the civilized world."  You should really check out other country's immigration policies - you might find out that they are a LOT tougher than ours!

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@class80olddog Our immigration laws are pathetic.  You're assuming that all of these kids need ESL or major support.  What about the high performing kids who are class valedictorians?   Forced by the Feds?  We're a Republic and I don't fear a strong central government the way most Jeffersonians do.   But that's another debate altogether : )

class80olddog
class80olddog

@living-in-outdated-ed @class80olddog It would be different if the Federal government was in charge of implementing (and paying for) the policies it creates.  But it  doesn't, it requires the States to administer and pay for the policies.

095onemanarmy
095onemanarmy

@class80olddog You say that it is not okay for "illegal immigrants to go to our schools", because "they take lots of our money". Do you mean the same money we the tax payers and the parents of those "illegal immigrants" who pay in sales, local, State, and Federal tax? Are you talking about that money? Another hole I am going to pock at in your argument is the "FORCED by the Feds." Well adding on to @living-in-outdated-ed  argument we live in a republic and it is not like the Feds come to our homes everyday and reach in our pockets to take our money. Moving on to your solution of deporting all undocumented immigrants. The thing is we can not just up and shove them in a bus and send them over the border. There are a few reasons. First, is that undocumented immigrants or "illegal immigrants" are not all Mexican or Latinos. Undocumented immigrants come from the four corners of the world in all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, and shades(colors). So you can not just send them over the border. You have to first start by asking who is going to be assigned the role of looking for and arresting undocumented immigrants. Are you going to give that role to local police enforcement? Adding more duties to an overwhelmed police enforcement which in some places are running thin and underfunded. Are you going to get more I.C.E( Immigration Costumes Enforcement) agents who's job will be obsolete  once the job was done? Causing people to be unemployed since the demand for ICE agents will drop?  Moving on, have you consider the cost of housing? Since there is no way we can deport all 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in one swift move. We have to first give them a trail and a deportation sentence before deporting them. While they wait for their trail to end they are detained in Deportation Detention Centers who are founded by the tax payer. In those centers they are fed, cloths, and what not. Then once they get their deportation order they are transferred to thier area of deportation. Which is either by bus or plane and guess who pays for it? Well if you are angry about paying for them to get an education then you are going to explode of anger, because you my friend the tax payer are the paying for all of that.  The cost of deporting ONE undocumented immigrant is according the I.C.E in 2013  is $8,660. This excludes the hidden fees of deporting bread winners from a U.S citizen family like this man in Vice News(https://youtu.be/JOEn0iBWWx0) or the cost of farmers( https://youtu.be/F0ZzwGSF6Zg)(https://youtu.be/QXUdozfL7iM). This is what happens when you enforce the laws, which you say they are not being enforced. Did you know that under the Obama administration there were more deportation than under the Bush administration? I hope this information and videos will answer and expose some of the misconceptions out there about Undocumented Immigrants and if you have more questions please do not hesitate to ask me. Over all it is your choice to look at the information i have provided you and do not take my hole poking of your argument as a direct attack on you, because I do not know you and I can not just judge you without knowing you. I hope you have a good day.

Cosby Butch Smith
Cosby Butch Smith

So why did he not work toward becoming a Citizen. He had all his life to do it.

Darrell Stephens
Darrell Stephens

He has lived here long enough for himself to have made sure he was a citizen. Amnesty for all illegal immigrants who can provide proof that were used as illegal labor.

Toi Clark
Toi Clark

I am a U. S. Citizen who has had to pay for My son in Pre K to be educated. In our current state of residence, students whose native language is not English AUTOMATICALLY qualify for FREE PUBLIC PREK as well as FREE language development programs. Where's the justice for MY family?

Toi Clark
Toi Clark

Shawna Woods why can't my child receive the same education that illegals are privy to upon arrival to our country? That's the injustice! I paid over $10,000 in child care to make sure that my child could be Kindergarten ready, but non English speakers can go to public school for Pre K FOR FREE! Why should they get the advantage? There could've at least been a lottery for spots, but we did not qualify just because he is an English speaker.

Leonard Brown
Leonard Brown

WITH ENOUGH CRIMINALS YOU CAN RUN THE BORDER AND GOVERNMENT

DrTruth
DrTruth

"About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance....Those numbers increase for households with children, with 76% of immigrant-led households receiving welfare..."

  • The majority of immigrants using welfare come from Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The use of welfare is lower for immigrants from East Asia (32%), Europe (26%) and South Asia (17%).
  • Immigrants who have been in the U.S. more than 20 years use welfare less often, but their rates remain higher than native-born households.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/01/immigrant-welfare-use-report/71517072/


Now "undocumented students" need reduced tuition, subsidized by GA Taxpayers?   You must be joking.....

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Starik  "Or rewarding people, wherever they're from, who work hard and avoid criminal behavior. "

That sounds like you're in favor of giving illegal aliens equal or even preferential treatment regarding admission to Georgia's top 5 public universities, and at in-state tuition rates.  Is that what you're saying?  Do you actually think some Georgia Residents and US Citizens should be denied admission to our state's best colleges just so we can "reward people" who are in this country illegally?


Here's how some of the people who are in this country illegally have been rewarding us and thanking us for the opportunity we have given them:

  • Between 2008 and 2014, 40% of all murder convictions in Florida were criminal aliens. In New York it was 34% and Arizona 17.8%.
  • During those years, criminal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York, while illegal aliens constitute only 5.6% of the total population in those states.
  • That 38% represents 7,085 murders out of the total of 18,643.


http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2015/08/08/illegal-alien-crime-accounts-for-over-30-of-murders-in-some-states/ 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@DrTruth

Good points, which will be lost on Maureen, the AJC, and many of the bleeding heart liberals on this blog who ignore the fact these individuals, by their very presence, are law breakers.

Starik
Starik

@DrTruth Nope. Read the link. I don't have a problem with feeding people. Or rewarding people, wherever they're from, who work hard and avoid criminal behavior.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @DrTruth "Or rewarding people, wherever they're from, who work hard and avoid criminal behavior. "  But you don't consider living in this country illegally as "criminal behavior"?

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Starik Wrong again, Starik.  Entering the United States illegally is a CRIMINAL Act.  Are you sure you worked in the criminal justice system?

"Q: But he was later asked a hypothetical question about someone sneaking across the border and said that’s not a crime either. Is that true, too?

A: No. “Improper entry by an alien” as it is called, is a violation of Title 8 of the U.S. criminal code punishable by a fine of between $50 and $250 and/or a maximum of six months in jail."  http://blog.chron.com/immigration/2008/04/being-undocumented-is-it-a-crime-or-not/

"Illegal Immigration is a Crime (2013) Each year the Border Patrol apprehends hundreds of thousands of aliens who flagrantly violate our nation's laws by unlawfully crossing U.S. borders. Such illegal entry is a misdemeanor, and, if repeated after being deported, becomes punishable as a felony."  http://www.fairus.org/issue/illegal-immigration-is-a-crime

Of course that assumes they don't commit more criminal acts once here.  I've already posted that many do commit crimes, even murder.

John Sukroo
John Sukroo

It's a shame the Indians did not have a wall.

Bike Maize
Bike Maize

Yes, yes it was, so let's learn from their mistakes.

Demetris Marshall
Demetris Marshall

I'm a believer of higher education, but citizenships fees are a whole lot cheaper. True fact.

Sara SuLynn Silvers
Sara SuLynn Silvers

They don't none of them want to pay for nothing just like usual. But now he's hit a big ol road block... haha got ya....he needs to go back to Mexico and join the cartell's if he wants a higher education...

Michael Shadrick
Michael Shadrick

It is not a practical loss nor a moral failure. To allow him to attend UGA would be a practical loss to the student whose place he takes and that would be a moral failure.

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

He is a failure if he is illegal and should be deported

Ronald Mexico
Ronald Mexico

Did he try to get his status changed I understand you have to follow your parents but after so long you become your own man

Paul Fair
Paul Fair

So? He should have come in legally.

Quirt Fargo
Quirt Fargo

Deport all illegals, including this Mendoza cat. Be fair about it, and deport without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or sexual orientation.

Bike Maize
Bike Maize

Darrell Stephens how is the law, or Quirt being racist?

Michael Cox
Michael Cox

Or, just the rule of law, which is what makes nations.

Stephanie Moore
Stephanie Moore

And the law is always right? His parents came here illegally. Why should he be denied citizenship if he's a hard worker and wants an education?

Michael Cox
Michael Cox

Because it is the law that is why...if you don't like get the law changed. But to ignore it only encourages anarchy.

jerryeads
jerryeads

Just because kids through no fault of their own end up here shouldn't deny them the opportunity to make our state - and country - better. One of my wife's best ever students almost got shipped back to Africa - even though her parents had been here AND PAID TAXES for twenty years. She was awarded a full scholarship to Emory and Harvard. No surprise, she got the heck out of town and won't be coming back. Georgia's loss. We could use more doctors like she'll become.

Starik
Starik

@jerryeads Exactly so. We need to change our immigration system from family and diversity based to a need based system; Canada has a points system, based on skills the country needs.

Leonard Brown
Leonard Brown

IM JUMPING THE BORDER TO MOVE TO MEXICO TO BUY LAND

Bike Maize
Bike Maize

Don't buy it! just live there. don't pay taxes on it, & use it for all it's worth, Then take that money, and send it back to your struggling family in the US. I'm sure the Mexican gov will be ok with that, & also provided benefits, services, & free college Tuition to the finest universities Mexico has offer

Roberta Cromlish
Roberta Cromlish

I don't think Mexico allows ou to buy land--only rent it

thialand
thialand

Both Downey and Goodrich lost any credibility when they refer to these people as "undocumented students."  No need to read further.  


Just another example of 51% of the populace supporting the other 49%.  

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Starik  You can.  Move to a socialist country like Venezuela.  Or just quit your job and go on welfare.  Or better yet, start your own business.  It's funny how you consider yourself "subsidizing" the top 1-2% when it sounds like you wouldn't have a job if it weren't for the top 1-2%.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@thialand

"Both Downey and Goodrich lost any credibility when they refer to these people as "undocumented students.""


Exactly.  It is not a paperwork problem, it is the fact that these individuals broke our nations laws by sneaking into the country and continue to break our laws by staying.  And then they have the audacity to demand the privileges that we bestow upon our citizens.

Starik
Starik

@DrTruth @Starik I don't have a job. I'm retired. I still pay taxes to pay inflated money to the damn doctors, hospitals, and the rest of our bloated health care system. Do you have a job?