Read Our Op-Ed in the Huffington Post!

Freedom University Executive Director, Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis, joined forces with immigrant detention expert Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South, to write this powerful Op-Ed in the Huffington Post "When Undocumented Youth Are Banned From College, The Entire Nation Fails."

Here are some highlights:

"Over the last 25 years, immigrants who helped the city of Atlanta prepare for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games have made Georgia their home. Yet Georgia’s notorious late-night home raids, deadly immigrant detention facilities and high rate of deportations tears thousands of families apart every year.

Georgia’s targeting of undocumented immigrants reached fever pitch in 2010, when many of the 1990s childhood arrivals reached college age. That year, the Georgia Board of Regents passed two policies to ban undocumented students from enrolling in its top public universities and deny them the right to pay in-state tuition rates throughout the state. In doing so, Georgia became one of only three states in the country, along with South Carolina and Alabama, to implement an admissions ban against undocumented students in public higher education.

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Georgia is missing out on $10 million in tax revenue per year by disqualifying academically eligible Georgians from in-state tuition rates. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that the 1.3 million young undocumented immigrants enrolled in or immediately eligible for DACA contribute an estimated $1.7 billion a year in state and local taxes nationally.

In Georgia alone, if DACA recipients were to lose their status, the state would lose an estimated $23.6 million in state and local taxes. To put this in perspective, $24 million in state coffers could pay for 310 new school buses or the salaries of 704 new public school teachers in Georgia, improving school safety and educational quality for everyone. Alternatively, if undocumented immigrants in Georgia were to receive legal status, they could contribute an additional $100 million in state and local taxes annually, which could cover the entire cost of Georgia’s 2019 budget line item to repair and replace bridges across the state.

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States across the country can learn from the grievous mistakes of Georgia. Restricting undocumented student access to higher education harms all of us: It targets and punishes our youth, wastes taxpayers dollars and undermines our international credibility. Everyone benefits when the best minds and the most qualified students receive a college education."

Laura Soltis