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Ga. Lawmakers Weigh a Ban on Undocumented Students from Colleges

Georgia lawmakers are debating a measure that would actually bar undocumented students from the state's public colleges and universities. The bill, say its supporters, is designed to keep illegal immigrants from taking spaces in Georgia's higher education system from legal residents.

In a hearing on the legislation yesterday, opponents—including some undocumented students—gave some gut-wrenching testimony about how the bill would kill their hopes and dreams.

The state already has a tough policy for undocumented students who want to attend its most elite campuses such as Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. If those schools turn away academically qualified students—and they do routinely because of the demand to enroll in those schools—then they can't admit students who do not have legal status. And undocumented students who enroll in the state's other public institutions must pay out-of-state tuition.

The new measure would go even further by keeping students out of all of the state's public campuses if they don't have legal status.

If the legislation were adopted, Georgia would join just three other states with outright bans on undocumented students attending public colleges: Alabama, Arizona and South Carolina. Most other states that have wrestled with issues around illegal immigrants and higher education have focused on so-called Dream Acts, which have sought to provide in-state tuition levels and access to financial aid.

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