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Dreams Dashed in Georgia as Board of Regents Bars Students from Several State Colleges

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Youth Attending Regents MeetingMiriam Torres is a 20-year-old honor student from Roswell, Georgia who wants to attend Georgia Tech to study biomedical engineering. As Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey reported, tuition costs were already posing a barrier to attending college, and now, thanks to a 14-2 vote by the state Board of Regents, Miriam is prohibited from attending due to her undocumented immigration status.

The Georgia Board of Regents, which oversees the public higher education institutions in the University System of Georgia, voted Wednesday to prohibit undocumented immigrants from enrolling at any state college with a selective admissions process. This means students like Miriam will be unable to attend the state’s flagship public universities the University of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Georgia State University, Medical College of Georgia, and Georgia College & State University.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

The regents approved prohibiting illegal immigrants from attending any college that has rejected academically qualified applicants for the past two academic years because of space or other issues…Officials could not say immediately how many qualified applicants had been turned away at those schools.

Georgia joins South Carolina as the second state to enact such a ban. And it might not end with the top five state schools — from the AJC:

GA Board of RegentsLawmakers plan to introduce a bill to bar these students from all public colleges — the 35 institutions in the University System of Georgia and the 26 in the Technical College System of Georgia. Both Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates have said they support such a measure.

“The regents were heading in the right direction, but I just wish they had taken it one step further,” Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, said.

The right direction? As sociology student Eva Cardeles says, quoted in the New York Times:

Let’s not go back to an era when we deny education to a certain group of people.