HB 120 Feb 19, 2021 Testimony from former DACA illegal alien Raymond Partolan in House Higher Education Committee hearing
“Um, I also work at Kuck Baxter Immigration, uh, and my boss, Charles Kuck, uh, I believe assisted with the actual drafting of this legislation.”
Transcript from Rev.com
Feb 19, 2021 Georgia House Committee on Higher Education hearing on HB 120
Testimony from Raymond Partolan, a self-described former DACA recipient and now employee of the law offices of Kuck Baxter Immigration.
Bio from Kuck Baxter Immigration:
Mr. Raymond Partolan is an Immigration Paralegal at Kuck | Baxter Immigration LLC working primarily on family-based immigration cases. Before joining Kuck | Baxter Immigration, LLC, Mr. Partolan spent several years as the Program Associate at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, a nonprofit law and advocacy center for Asian Americans across the Southeast. There, he was a BIA Accredited Representative and prepared family immigration petitions for the most underserved populations.
For over seven years, Mr. Partolan has been a fearless advocate for immigrant and refugee communities as a DACA recipient himself. In 2013, he was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the University System of Georgia challenging its decision to bar DACA recipients from receiving in-state tuition at Georgia schools. He has lobbied for immigration reform at the local, state, and federal levels of government, traveling the country to share his immigrant story.
He received a certificate from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. for his coursework in a “Comprehensive Overview of Immigration Law,” and graduated summa cum laude from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Mr. Partolan is originally from the Philippines and is trilingual in English, Spanish, and Tagalog.
House Higher Education Committee Chairman Chuck Martin:
Thank you, Miss Lee. Um, Raymond… Uh, is it P- P- Partolan?
Partolan. You, the, your pen went, uh, a bit dry on the top of the P, so I wasn’t sure… Or if, if, if it was trying to be half a K or, uh, B. You have the floor.
All right. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Members of the committee, my name is Raymond Partolan. I live right here in Atlanta. Um, and I didn’t prepare any kind of remarks today. I just wanted to make a couple of points. Um, I’m Filipino-American. I grew up right here in this State of Georgia. I moved here at the age of one from the Philippines. And so as you can imagine, um, I have no recollection of any other place but this state. In fact, I have the words wisdom, justice, and moderation, tattooed on my back, uh, because I believe so strongly in the ideals and the foundations of, of the great State of Georgia. Um, I also work at Kuck Baxter Immigration, uh, and my boss, Charles Kuck, uh, I believe assisted with the actual drafting of this legislation. Um, and so I believe I bring a unique perspective to this issue as a former DACA recipient myself, um, as now a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and also an immigration practitioner, uh, specializing in family-based immigration and removal defense.
So, a couple of things that, that I wanna point out, one regarding the DACA program itself. It was announced on June 15th, 2012, by President Barack Obama. Uh, the Department of Homeland Security began accepting applications for the DACA program back in August of 2012. And in September of 2017, the Trump administration ended the DACA program, and the Department of Homeland Security ceased accepting initial applications. Now, back in June of 2020, the United States Supreme Court decided, uh, that the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program was in error, that it was in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. And, uh, subsequent to that, the Department of Homeland Security has now resumed the accepting initial applications for DACA. I mention that, uh, because, uh, Representative Car- Carpenter e- earlier mentioned that, um, that initial applic-, or the way I understood what he was saying, uh, was that initial applications for DACA are no longer being accepted, um, and that is not the case. So there are new applicants for DACA, uh, who are now coming forward and applying.
And so I, I recognize we’re short on time, so I’ll go ahead and close up. But providing in-state tuition access to DACA recipients in this state would level the playing field for DACA recipients, would strengthen Georgia’s economy, and would provide young undocumented students who have lived here in the State of Georgia for the majority of their lives with a chance, um, at a better future. I grew up in Macon, uh, I am a proud product of the Bibb County Public School System. Graduated from Central High School, I was the salutatorian of my class. Uh, in fact, the first time I was here at the Capitol Building, it was 10 years ago when I went with my high school orchestra and we played a concert right there, um, out in the rotunda. And so had it not been for my own college education, I, I graduated from Mercer University in 2015, I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career. And there are tens of thousands of DACA recipients here in this state, over 21,000, um, specifically, who would benefit from a higher education.
And so I wanna close by just saying that providing in-state tuition access for DACA recipients in this state would be good for our state because it would allow us to retain the talent and creativity and intelligence that these young undocumented students have. My girlfriend is now a student at the Syracuse University College of Law in New York. She graduated from Armstrong State College here in Georgia, but because of the way our laws work right now, she was unable to go to law school here in this state. And so, um, I appreciate all of you for your time. I appreciate the bipartisan effort, uh, to provide undocumented students with access to higher education, and I will yield, uh, the floor. Thank you.