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Regents’ report on undocumented students reveals different reality than what Georgia conservatives preach

LatinaLista — The way conservative politicians have continuously latched on to the illegal immigration issue and regurgitated the falsehoods fed to them by groups who have demonstrated their revulsion for the “rainbow” demographics evolving in this country is at the same time disturbing and infuriating.

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It’s disturbing because so many people who are truly innocent of hard crimes and guilty of only not having the proper paperwork and being in the country illegally are being intentionally painted by these same politicians as members of Mexican drug cartels or equated with Mideast terrorists.

Georgia Board of Regents 2010

There is no remorse or conscience exhibited by these politicians who are imploring voters to trust them at their word that they will provide responsible leadership in Washington.

It is infuriating because these same politicians are knowingly and with malice perpetuating these outright lies about undocumented immigrants — even when they are categorically proven false.

One of the most popular urban immigrant myths that has become part of every conservative platform is the notion that undocumented students are flooding public colleges and taking the seats of deserving American students.

This idea is so prevalent that Georgia became the latest state to ban undocumented students from campuses that have “rigorous admissions policies.”

Yet, even the Regents’ own review of the undocumented college student population in Georgia illustrates that there really isn’t a problem.

So, the bigger question is why still implement such a policy?

According to a final report presented on October 13 to the Georgia Board of Regents:

Only 501 undocumented students – all paying out-of-state tuition – are among the 310,000 students enrolled in University System of Georgia (USG) institutions this fall.

It wasn’t the number Regents expected when they formed the Residency Verification Committee. In fact, regents established the committee because of three specific complaints:

1.) The University System was being swamped by thousands of undocumented students.

2.) Georgia taxpayers were subsidizing the education of these students through in-state tuition.

3.) Undocumented students were taking seats in college from academically qualified Georgians.

None of the complaints were found to be true.

Regent James Jolly who chaired the Residency Verification Committee told his fellow Regents that in addition to there only being 501 undocumented students enrolled in Georgia colleges, they all were paying out-of-state tuition.

“Every student paying out-of-state tuition actually covers more than the cost of instruction,” Jolly said.

As far as undocumented students taking the place of Georgia citizens, the Regents addressed this concern by denying undocumented students from even applying at those colleges that turn away academically qualified, legal residents.

The Regents found five universities that fit this criteria that had 27 undocumented students enrolled among the five.

As anyone who has ever undergone the college admission process knows, just because a student is academically qualified doesn’t necessarily make them a good fit for a particular college.

However, the desire to keep undocumented students out at any cost seems to be worth the disparities in student selection — even if qualified undocumented students are paying out-of-state tuition.

While this report clearly shows the fallacies of the three main reasons for compiling the report in the first place, it’s a sad commentary on Georgia media that no one highlighted these disparities.

It goes to show just how systemic the myths about undocumented students, and their families, have become in U.S. society that when the truth is officially revealed no one wants to take notice.

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