ATLANTA, GA – Yesterday, the Georgia Resident In-State Tuition Act (HB-120) was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives by State Representative Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) to expand access to higher education for young undocumented Georgians by allowing them to qualify for in-state tuition at certain state colleges and universities. State Representatives Dale Washburn (R-Macon), Mathew Gambill (R-Cartersville), Zulma Lopez (D-Atlanta), Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta), and Wes Cantrell (R -Woodstock) also co-sponsored the legislation.
The bipartisan Georgia Resident In-State Tuition Act would grant in-state tuition to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and young immigrants otherwise known as Dreamers who have established and maintained domicile in Georgia since January 1, 2013 or are the dependent of a parent who has established or maintained domicile in Georgia since January 1, 2013, and who have graduated from a Georgia high school or have a GED, among other requirements. They are American in all ways except on paper.
Despite their families contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy, Georgia Dreamers currently pay out-of-state tuition, which is at least three times higher than the in-state cost to study at University System of Georgia schools, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As a result, they frequently seek out education opportunities elsewhere in the United States – taking their skills, talents, and tax dollars with them. Tuition equity would create access to higher education for these young individuals to strengthen Georgia’s workforce and fill the gaps in key industries such as education, health care, and information technology.
This bipartisan bill, which would create more opportunities for Georgia’s Dreamers and benefit all Georgians, comes after years of legislative uncertainty surrounding the DACA program, which currently protects more than 700,000 young people from deportation, including 21,000 people from Georgia. While the new Administration and Congress work together to enact federal reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Georgia state legislators can improve our communities and grow our economy by providing education opportunities for our state’s young immigrants.
Below are statements from FWD.us Georgia Immigration State Director Samuel Aguilar and FWD.us Immigration Associate Jaime Rangel on the Georgia Resident In-State Tuition Act (HB-120):
“By failing to expand higher education opportunities for hardworking immigrants, we are preventing talented and qualified young people from achieving their full potential while holding Georgia’s economy back from additional job creation and growth. These young individuals, who want to build on their foundation that is already grounded in our state, are integral for filling the skills gap and key labor shortages, strengthening our workforce, and ensuring sustained long-term economic growth to keep Georgia’s reputation as the number one state in which to do business. At the end of the day, we need to continue to invest in young people who want to build their lives in our state, and expanding opportunities for Dreamers and their families is both the right thing to do and will help grow Georgia’s economy. I’m grateful for the leadership of Representative Kasey Carpenter and this bipartisan group of legislators and look forward to working with them to pass this into law.” said FWD.us Georgia State Director Samuel Aguilar.
“This bipartisan bill would allow for DACA recipients like myself to earn an honest living, provide for our loved ones, and contribute to the state’s economy and workforce — which is especially needed as Georgia works to fill essential roles in nursing and healthcare. Right now, the astronomical cost of out-of-state tuition is a major factor discouraging Georgia Dreamers from attending college in the state they’ve called home since childhood, hurting our economic competitiveness,” said Jaime Rangel, DACA recipient and FWD.us Immigration Associate. “Thousands of Dreamers call Georgia home and have lived the majority of our lives here – we should be eligible for the same in-state tuition rates as all other Georgians. I’m thankful State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle introduced this vital bill, and I urge the entire Georgia state legislature to swiftly pass this legislation. Without a fix, our local economies, communities, and schools will miss out on opportunities to build a more diverse and innovative workforce, which is especially needed as we work to rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic.”