Anti-immigrant student bill passes Senate

“I know we’re in the right side of history and justice is not being served.”


  • Joeff Davis
  • Sen. Nan Orrock speaking at a rally last week in front of the capitol in support of undocumented students.

The state Senate yesterday voted to pass Senate Bill 458, which would prevent undocumented students from attending any of Georgia’s 60 public colleges. Laws are on the books that already stop undocumented students from attending any colleges with a competitive application process (includes the top five state schools), as well as making the undocumented students — many of whom have spent most of their lives in Georgia — pay out-of-state tuition. The state estimates that one tenth of one percent of students in the system are undocumented or roughly 300 out of about about 318,000 students.

Chancellor Hank Huckaby of the University System of Georgia came out against the law in his testimony Feb. 22 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying “I believe our current policy addresses the concerns some of you have that the System should ensure that all undocumented students pay out-of-state tuition, that no Georgians should be denied a seat in college if they were academically qualified because of an undocumented student, and that educating undocumented students would not cost Georgia taxpayers.”

Huckaby added: “Graduating more students is a key goal of the System as we work to help Georgia prosper. Even for those who are here through no fault of their own, it makes sense to me that we should educate them to the highest level possible. It helps our state economically, culturally, and educationally.”

Despite his testimony, the Senate voted 34-19 in favor of the bill, largely along party lines. No Democrats voted for it.

Yvony Diaz, 19, who moved to Georgia when he was 8 years old, said he was saddened by the vote, but held out hope that the bill could still be defeated. Diaz was brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was two months old and graduated from Chattahoochee High School in 2010.

“When SB 458 was passed on Monday, it made me feel under attack,” he wrote in an e-mail to CL. “It’s making me think that my dream of attending college here in Georgia is fading away. But I can’t think like that. I know we’re in the right side of history and justice is not being served.”

He said he’d move to another state if the bill passes before he’d consider returning to Mexico, adding that he speaks only a little Spanish.

The bill next moves to the House.