Georgia's House Bill 59, from state Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross), is essentially a bill that says all public universities and tech schools in Georgia must ask for proof of eligibility from student applicants for admission and verify that aliens who apply are indeed eligible, using legal immigration status.
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 was effective 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 intent of the 2006 law and is even now admitting illegals 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 an altered policy saying they would stop admitting illegals to five universities but refused to use the available federal SAVE verification system already in place for other public benefits.
So, it's back to the legislature.
The author of the 2006 law, 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 powerful Senate Committee on Rules also testified 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 classes.
His son was a member of the United States military.
The Regents have no valid argument but constantly drone that "education is our mission." The hope is to convince us that Georgia has an unlimited number of resources and college classroom seats. We don't.
In addition to the demand that we not only admit illegals, but reward them with far cheaper in-state tuition, the usual hard-left suspects who oppose HB 59 (of course they do) wail 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 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 illegals and was put on hold last year in order to devote full attention to Representative Matt Ramsey's now famous HB 87 (the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011) which eventually became law. Thousands of illegals have fled Georgia as a result. Enforcement works.
As part of his campaign, Deal promised to " ... do whatever necessary to prohibit illegal aliens from attending any school in Georgia's university system and our technical college system."
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 Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, which opposes illegal immigration.