It should be passed ASAP.
In 2006, Georgia passed the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, the first state level comprehensive illegal immigration reform legislation in the nation (yes, including Arizona). It went into effect on July 1, 2007.
Part of that law makes it clear that taxpayer funded “post secondary education” (at Georgia’s public universities and technical schools) are public benefits from which illegal aliens are excluded. This state law took language from long-standing federal law that clearly lists post secondary education along with welfare, disability, public or assisted housing, food assistance, unemployment benefit and commercial licenses (including business licenses) as “state and local” — and federal — public benefits.
Georgia’s Board of Regents, the entity that runs the state university system, ignored the language and intent of the 2006 law and is even now knowingly and defiantly admitting illegal aliens into Georgia’s public universities and tech schools. Because of a 2010 complaint from yours truly exposing the ongoing violations, the Regents held special committee meetings through much of that summer and announced a new policy saying they would not use the available verification system in place and would continue to admit illegals to all of the schools except five universities.
Because there was no official state action on the complaint, it’s back to the legislature.
The author of the 2006 law, state Sen. Chip Rogers, now Senate Majority Leader, testified as to “legislative intent” in a February 2011 House Higher Education Committee hearing on HB 59. He made it clear that the law was meant to preserve Georgia’s university classroom seats for students who are either U.S. citizens or lawfully present aliens.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules also took the time to testify to the same committee in favor of the bill and carefully explained that his own son had been denied admission to a local university because it had no available seats for his selected classes.
His son was a member of the United States military.
The Regents have no real valid argument except to constantly drone that “education is our mission.” The hope is to convince us that Georgia has an unlimited and infinite number of resources and college classroom seats. We don’t.
In addition to the demand that we not only admit illegal immigrants, but reward them with far cheaper instate tuition, the usual hard-left suspects who oppose HB 59 (of course they do) wails that we should not punish illegal alien children for what their illegal alien parents have done.
Maybe, but with Georgia being a destination and home for hundreds of thousands of real, legal immigrants from all over the world and a limited number of public college classroom seats, one needs to ask why we would punish their lawfully present children for what their parents did not do - intentionally and brazenly violate American immigration and employment laws.
You may ask why we would dedicate any of our limited taxpayer financed state post secondary education resources to educate a student who is in the country illegally when that individual is not legally eligible to work anywhere in the country upon graduation. Me too.
If you have asked yourself why we would turn away a member of the U.S. military — or a veteran — because we admitted an illegal alien…you are not alone.
HB 59 will make Georgia even less attractive to illegal immigrants and was put on hold last year in order to devote full attention to (the now famous) HB 87 which eventually became law. Thousands of illegals have fled Georgia as a result. Enforcement works.
As part of his campaign, Gov. Deal promised in this newspaper to “…do whatever necessary to prohibit illegal aliens from attending any school in Georgia’s university system and our technical college system.”
Surprisingly, HB 59 has not yet seen a vote by the entire Georgia House so that it can go to the Senate and then to Governor Deal for signing.
Readers would do hopeful young citizen and real immigrant students a huge favor if they take five minutes to call their own state Senators and Representatives insisting that HB 59 – a bill that says that even Georgia universities must obey the law – be speedily passed.
D.A. King is president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society, which opposes illegal immigration. He works closely with Georgia legislators on the issue.