GALEO focused on education benefits and cast SB 458, as “Georgia's Anti-DREAM Act,” because it “would have placed Georgia in the extreme position of being one of three states in the nation that deny access to higher education to undocumented students.” That’s the way the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported it too.
Sponsor Barry Loudermilk’s explanation—made with exceeding logic and patience during debate—however, was all but ignored. The bill was really about public benefits for illegal aliens and the type of documentation needed. PUBLIC education—at public universities—is a public benefit; under the bill, Georgia would enforce federal law and deny illegal aliens access to public universities. One of the points Loudermilk kept repeating, as opponent after opponent played the “children just wanting education” pity card, was that SB 458 did not prohibit access to PRIVATE colleges. But for GALEO higher education is synonymous with public higher education, one that they believe illegal aliens have a right to enjoy.
By the fortieth and last day of the session the by then toxic provision about higher education benefits would have been struck out had the bill been allowed to go to the House floor.
The Speaker of the House, David Ralston, however, did not call the bill up for a vote. There was a “skyrocket high majority” of votes in both houses to pass the bill, according to King. In his latest newsletter, King blames Governor Nathan Deal as the “root cause” for defeat.
But the negative cast on the bill, as affecting innocent children, was promoted by employees of the University System of Georgia, in the classroom and at the “Teach-In,” where the dean of the College of Education opened the day’s events with remarks in Spanish. D.A. King is used to seeing students and educators pack hearing rooms and dominate testimony. He calls most American universities “de facto training camps for future anti-enforcement radicals.”
The Board of Regents has been on the side of admitting illegal aliens to Georgia public universities. Chancellor Hank Huckaby testified AGAINST SB 458 on March 19, 2012. But in 2011, before he was appointed to the position by Governor Nathan Deal--when he was REPRESENTATIVE Huckaby--he voted FOR a similar bill, HB 59. One of the activists at the Teach-In bragged that legislators had “listened” to the many students and educators and tabled HB 59. According to King, at that earlier hearing opponents of HB 59 were allowed to take up far more than their allotted three minutes to speak; the chair, Carl Rogers, would not allow a vote, when it was clear that the bill had the votes to pass out of committee.
Why SB 458 failed in the GOP-controlled Georgia Capitol is somewhat of a mystery, although King said he has some theories about why the bill was refused a House vote.
What is not a mystery is that professors and administrators are using public facilities and using students for their own political lobbying purposes.
In addition to revisiting this immigration bill during the next session, legislators need to examine the corruption in education. The balance of power needs to be restored, back to the people who pay for the public institutions.