Enforcing immigration laws puts Georgia on right side of history and popular opinion

By D.A. King, Atlanta Journal Constitution, February 7, 2016

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Nowhere do the educators of our college youth mention that inconvenient concept of an equal application of the law that is supposed to protect all Americans and is the very basis of the civil rights movement. There is a reason for that.

This column is a response to one published several days earlier. The original column is pasted below.

In a response to a column on the blog this week condemning Georgia’s higher education policy toward illegal immigrants, D.A. King of Marietta wrote this rebuttal essay. A vocal advocate for enforcement of U.S. immigration and employment laws, King is president of the Dustin Inman Society.


The now stereotypical and always offensive path taken by liberals advocating for special treatment for illegal aliens is to associate enforcement of American immigration laws with racial prejudice and to the civil rights struggles of American blacks in the 1960s. And to completely ignore the rights of real, legal immigrants.

The recent joint effort featured here from associate professors Angela Stuesse and Shannon Speed did not disappoint. Because they did not, we note that “illegal” is not a race.

The issue of illegal immigrants and college attendance divides states. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

The issue of illegal immigrants and college attendance divides states. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

The writers cite recent protests by victims of borders against Board of Regents admittance policy. But they omitted mentioning arrests of several screaming protesters for shoving American police officers. They did however include references to a 1960 North Carolina lunch counter sit-in during which “four Black students… integrated a whites-only Woolworth’s counter.” The authors race-baiting hope is to compare the Board of Regents current policy on instate tuition and limiting illegal aliens access to taxpayer-funded post secondary schools as ”segregation.”

Nowhere do the educators of our college youth mention that inconvenient concept of an equal application of the law that is supposed to protect all Americans and is the very basis of the civil rights movement. There is a reason for that.

Longstanding federal law defining and regulating state and local public benefits (8USC1621 – 1996) makes it quite clear that illegal aliens are not eligible for post secondary education unless a state enacts a statute explicitly stating otherwise. The Georgia General Assembly has never passed such a law, but it has gone the opposite direction with legislation.

Mainstream Georgians would regard institutional, official violation of federal and state law as putting us on the “wrong side of history.”

The anthropology and gender studies professors’ anti-enforcement guest column probably went over far better in their respective faculty lounges that it does out here in the real world. A 2010 AJC-sponsored poll of Georgians reflected the unsurprising reality. Two-thirds of the very diverse respondents said we should prohibit illegal aliens from attending public universities at any tuition rate – even if they pay out-of state tuition.

We would be quite interested to see the AJC run another poll asking the same question as the 2010 version.

If not some new-found, pro-American respect for the law, we can only hope the professors’ liberal evolution leads to some measure of compassion for the legal immigrant families who stand in sad bewilderment as advocates for illegals push for “the undocumented” receiving the same benefits and rights earned by joining the American family lawfully. We can see that such a worldview is not in vogue on today’s college campuses, but we should all hope for change.

It is amusing to see the leftist advocates invoke the very dubious conclusions of the left-leaning Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s latest “report” on immigration and the alleged monetary boost to the Georgia economy. That is if we would only ignore several federal and state laws and put illegal aliens in line with American citizens and legal immigrants in our university admittance offices. And also put them into our workforce to compete with American workers and their already stagnant wages.

After that, in the never-ending game of political incrementalism, the next oft-quoted report would no-doubt carefully explain the mega-benefits to the Georgia economy if only we had officially open borders and a constant, unregulated influx of immigrants to replace the workers already struggling to live the American Dream in their own country.

All concerned should pay attention to the legislative process under the Gold Dome on the pending Senate Bill 6. It addresses existing state law to clear up intentionally created confusion on just who is an illegal alien after President Obama’s dubious executive action on deferred action on deportation.

If passed, signed into law and then actually enforced by the Republican-run state government, SB 6 will end the question of whether the Regents can or should change tuition policy on illegal aliens – of any description.


Original column

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

By Maureen Downey

February 4, 2016 | Filed in: College, Diversity

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.

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