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Immigration: The Regents still don’t get it Georgia University System Chancellor Erroll Davis and the state Board of Regents still don’t get it. And we’re starting to wonder if they ever will. The Regents, over which Davis presides, met last week for an update on its ongoing efforts to determine how many illegal aliens are enrolled as students in the state’s public colleges and universities, and what should be done about that situation. But rather than take any concrete steps to address that problem, the Regents have taken a “head-in-the-sand” approach. As we have noted before, state and federal law prohibits illegal aliens from receiving government benefits. Yet inexplicably, the Regents have narrowly interpreted those laws to apply only to such things as tuition and financial aid (i.e., Pell Grants and the HOPE scholarship). They ignore the obvious: That admission into a tax-subsidized public college or university in itself constitutes a government benefit. Yet, declared Davis: “We have no reason not to allow illegals to attend, any more than the grocer has a reason not to sell them groceries. … We offer products for sale like many other entities in society, and we want to make sure people are paying the appropriate price for those.” Continuing with that analogy for the sake of argument, the Regents’ “product” (a college education), is therefore subject to the law of supply and demand – and in this case, the demand is much greater than the supply. And the Regents are saying they are willing to “sell” that education to whoever is willing to pay the price. The better analogy, though, is that the regents are offering something highly prized – an education. And it is only available to those who meet certain criteria. Common sense – and overwhelming public sentiment – tells us that that criteria should include legal residency in this state. Yet the Regents are taking a position akin to, “We don’t care who buys our education, as long as they can pay our asking price. They could be Martians for all we care.” And though the buyer has no intrinsic right to buy any of the goods in the Regents’ “grocery,” if the buyer is a legal Georgia resident, he by logic, law and common sense should have a higher right to buy the groceries than someone who has slipped into this country illegally. In other words, the legal resident should be first in line at the Regents’ store. The Regents have taken a “who cares?” approach until now about whether illegals are being admitted to their schools, and continue to infer that it would be too much paperwork and too expensive to determine whether those it admits are legal or not. Yet they already demand proof of applicants’ SAT scores, high school transcripts and other personal information. Regents’ spokesmen said last week that preliminary indications are that there are far fewer illegals enrolled in the System’s schools than the public believes. That’s good news, if true. But even so, Georgians feel – overwhelmingly – that those students are filling seats that rightfully belong to deserving legal residents of this state. And that those being shut out are being wrongly denied the opportunity that they, and/or their parents, have paid for with their taxes. Also at last week’s meeting, Davis suggested that those pushing for immigration reform in this state are motivated by racial considerations and declared that the question of whether illegals should be allowed to attend schools in the University System is being driven primarily by politics. For someone claiming to know so much about Georgia politics, Davis displayed a remarkably tin ear. Yes, the majority of those in Georgia illegally seem to be of Hispanic origin. But those clamoring for the federal, state and local governments to finally begin enforcing our immigration laws could care less about the country of origin of those who are breaking those laws. They just want the laws enforced, and in this case that means barring enrollment to those in this country illegally. As for the claim that such sentiments are being stirred up for political gain, Davis should know better. After all, if the Regents had been adhering to the law all along, and to common sense, enrollment by illegals would never have become a political issue in the first place.

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