Paying for illegal immigrants before disabled Americans

A representative from Athens said he supports a bill to prevent illegal immigrants from attending public universities in Georgia. Sen. Brian Kemp, R-Athens, said he supports Senate Bill 170, which would require people to prove their legal status to receive taxpayer-funded services such as public colleges, welfare and public housing. Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, said that under the proposed law, college applicants would have to show a form of identification that proves their status as legal residents, such as a driver’s license, military ID, green card or visa.

The only current requirement for proving Georgia residency is to have a Georgia address, so illegal immigrants in the state can get in-state tuition, he said. Kemp said he supports the bill because Georgia residents already have a difficult time getting into the University, and they should get in before illegal immigrants.

Currently the University has only four undocumented immigrant students, said Provost Arnett Mace.

Salvador Arriola, a senior from Dalton and member of the Hispanic Student Association, said he does not support Senate Bill 170. He said he believes that illegal immigrants should have the opportunity to attend college.

“Maybe it’ll help them in the long run,� he said.

However, Kemp, the vice chairman of the Georgia Senate Committee on Higher Education, said tuition does not pay the entire cost of attendance. “The state pays a good portion of that,� he said. Arlethia Perry-Johnson, spokeswoman for the Board of Regents, said in-state tuition pays about 25 percent and tax dollars pay about 75 percent of students’ cost of attendance.

Out-of-state students pay the full cost of tuition, she said.

Admission to public colleges in Georgia is based on merit, not residence status, and the regents are interested in resident status only to determine tuition, she said. Rogers, who introduced the bill, said that by providing services to illegal immigrants, the state is spending millions of dollars in benefits daily on people who have not paid for them.

He said the state does not have enough money to pay benefits to all disabled residents, yet it spends money on services for illegal immigrants. The government has limited resources, Rogers said, and the purpose of the proposed law is to ensure tax dollars are spent on taxpayers.

“Do we have an unlimited supply of resources? The answer is no,� he said.

He said that it is not the U.S. government’s responsibility to figure out what illegal immigrants can do if they are barred from attending public universities.
“They should return to wherever their home country is,� Rogers said.


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