Valdosta Daily Times

Big Story AM

September 19, 2010

Poll: Many say no illegal aliens in public colleges

- — Two-thirds of Georgians want to bar illegal immigrants from attending the University of Georgia and other public colleges, even if they pay out-of-state tuition.

Sixty-seven percent of people polled last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Georgia Newspaper Partnership favor a law requiring proof of legal residency to attend a Georgia college or university, while 22 percent opposed such a law and 11 percent were undecided.

Illegal immigrant students are now allowed to attend college if they pay out-of-state tuition, but state lawmakers have said they will introduce a bill to change that policy early next year.

The poll results came as no surprise to D.A. King, founder of the anti-illegal immigrant Dustin Inman Society.

“We have a finite amount of classroom seats,” King said. “It’s always been a mystery to me for seats to go to people who are deportable at any time and cannot work upon graduation when unemployment is 10 percent.”

Illegal immigrants who go to college have usually grown up in Georgia and are among the best and the brightest, said Jerry Gonzalez, director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. They should be allowed to continue their education, he said.

“We’re holding the child accountable for a situation their parents put them in,” he said.

Gonzalez chalked up the poll numbers to anger over the federal government’s failure to enforce or reform immigration laws. But he said he believes the U.S. Senate is poised to pass a bill allowing illegal immigrants who have no criminal record and complete two years of college or serve in the military to become citizens.

“I think the public is frustrated with the fact that our congressional leaders have not taken action in reforming the immigration system that we have,” he said.

The issue came to the forefront in May, when police pulled over a Kennesaw State University student for a traffic violation and discovered that her parents had illegally brought her from Mexico to the U.S. as a child. Jessica Colotl was paying in-state tuition at KSU, an open-enrollment school, but when administrators discovered she was not a legal resident, they began charging her out-of-state tuition. Immigration officials gave her a year to finish her degree before she is deported.

After the Colotl case brought public attention, a University System of Georgia investigation found a few dozen other illegal immigrants attending public colleges and universities. A Board of Regents committee is meeting Tuesday and is expected to recommend more thorough residency checks, but illegal immigrants will still be admitted unless the state legislature changes the law, regents spokesman John Millsaps said. The full board is scheduled to take action in October.

The legislature exempted the Board of Regents from a 2006 ban on illegal immigrants receiving many government services.

“Current law allows undocumented students to apply to college and be accepted,” Millsaps said. “It just doesn’t allow them to pay in-state tuition. That’s the current law, and that’s what we have to operate under.”

Changing the law enjoys broad support from almost every demographic group. Seventy-five percent of men, 61 percent of women, 46 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans, 77 percent of political independents, 71 percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks favor changing it. The rest were opposed or undecided

Nidya Gonzalez, 33, a Realtor from Winder, said she usually votes Republican, but thinks the party makes too big a deal out of immigration for political reasons. Gonzalez said she immigrated legally as a teenager and is now a U.S. citizen.

"I love this country very much, and I adopted it as my own," she said. "I pursued my education, and I would like them to have that same chance."

But it sometimes seems like the government cares more about foreigners than citizens, said Fredrick Williams, 50, of Elberton.

“I don’t mean to sound racist, but they can go to school in Mexico,” Williams said. “They can go to school in China, or Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever they’re from.”

Both gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Nathan Deal, say they support barring illegal immigrants from attending public colleges and universities.

Illegal immigrants take spots that rightly belong to Georgians, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said.

Generally, I do not believe that a child should be punished for the crimes of the parents; but, I agree that we all have a duty and an obligation to obey the law, and we should obey the law,” Barnes said in a written statement. “Therefore, I am not in favor of illegal immigrants attending Georgia’s public colleges and universities.”

Text Only
Big Story AM
  • Kendrick_Johnson.jpg Rumors addressed in KJ case

    Editor’s Note
    This is the final of four stories reviewing the investigative case file of Kendrick Johnson, the Lowndes High School student whose lifeless body was found Jan. 11 in a rolled wrestling mat in the school’s old gymnasium. Today’s report addresses rumors that stemmed from an online article about possible suspects in Johnson’s death, provides details on a second autopsy conducted at the Johnson family’s request, and tells what’s next in the disputed death case.

    November 24, 2013 1 Photo

  • Kendrick_Johnson.jpg Where was Kendrick?

    About this series
    This is the third of four stories by the Valdosta Daily Times reviewing the official police file on the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson. Today’s report is about the confusion surrounding Kendrick’s whereabouts the day before his body was found, explains police handling of a report that a person was attacked and falsely accused of killing Kendrick, and tells about the dissatisfaction of Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson with how authorities handled the immediate investigation.

    November 23, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Billionaires, shadowy groups fuel pricey election

    Billionaires, anonymous donors and shadowy outside groups funneled enormous amounts of money into this year’s federal elections, as the cost of the presidential campaign surged past $2 billion and is expected to set a record.

    November 1, 2012

  • ELECTION-graphic.jpg Poll: Many say no illegal aliens in public colleges

    Two-thirds of Georgians want to bar illegal immigrants from attending the University of Georgia and other public colleges, even if they pay out-of-state tuition. Sixty-seven percent of people polled last week favor a law requiring proof of legal residency to attend a Georgia college or university.

    September 19, 2010 1 Photo

  • hurricane logo.jpg Hurricane gains strength

    Hurricane Igor is on the verge of becoming a monstrous Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, while another tropical storm - Julia - has formed.

    September 12, 2010 1 Photo

  • baby.jpg Health officials, mothers battle Lowndes’ high infant mortality rate

    Lowndes County has an unusually high infant mortality rate. Meet some of the people who trying to turn that around, including those involved with the Baby Luv program.

    September 11, 2010 1 Photo

  • wtc.jpg Anniversary of 9/11 attacks steeped in political, religious tensions

    This year, controversies over the location of a planned mosque near the "ground zero" site in New York City and threats by a pastor to burn a copy of Islam's holy book have left shadows over the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history.

    September 11, 2010 1 Photo

  • abuse logo.jpg Lanier tackles child abuse, neglect

    An open forum held recently in Lanier County dealt with child abuse and neglect issues in that county.

    September 6, 2010 1 Photo

  • ELECTION-graphic.jpg Roy Barnes: New health reform law’s unhealthy for Georgia

    Roy Barnes says the new federal health reform law backed by fellow Democrats could be “financially devastating” for Georgia unless officials in Washington figure out a way to help states cope with a staggering jump in Medicaid costs.

    September 5, 2010 1 Photo

  • 2hankaaronresizedbw.jpg Hank Aaron reunites with Valdosta man who followed him onto field

    Henry Aaron - "Hammerin' Hank" - recently got back together with two men who, as teens, ran the bases with him on the day he broke Babe Ruth's career home run record — and one of those two lives in Valdosta.

    September 5, 2010 2 Photos

Top News

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results