“It is testament to the tenacity, funding and power of the school choice advocates that including illegals in a proposed new state benefit program is even being discussed.”
A battle is coming between the Georgia Republicans who are pushing “school choice” at any cost and pro-enforcement conservatives who refuse to reward and encourage more illegal immigration into Georgia. Expanding benefits for illegal aliens does exactly that. The lobbying money is on the “include the illegals” side. All too often, the truth isn’t.
Despite what Georgians may be told, the 1982 Plyer V Doe Supreme Court decision only requires states to provide public school tuition to K-12 students regardless of immigration status.
A word of experienced advice to readers who may favor “putting parents in charge of education…” but take the pro-enforcement view of the debate: You can save yourself a lot of attacks as being “anti-school choice” if you make clear your opposition to rewarding illegal immigration early in any discussion on the topic.
We don’t allow illegal aliens to access the Hope Scholarship, the Zell Miller Scholarship, or instate tuition in our taxpayer-funded public colleges. Why do some Republicans want to welcome illegal alien families with discretionary, taxpayer-funded K-12 private school benefits? It is testament to the tenacity, funding and power of the school choice advocates that including illegals in a proposed new state benefit program is even being discussed.
This writer attended a seminar on school choice last fall in Marietta and got the “whole enchilada” presentation and was surprised to see several well-known Georgia Republicans -including former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler – featured as presenters. I still don’t know the answer to the above question. But I can report that the ongoing illegal immigration catastrophe was completely avoided in the program and there was no Q&A session. I did hear it said that “we are all Americans.”
- Related: School choice legislation is likely from Georgia lawmakers this session
We are not aware of any position the new leadership under the Gold Dome has taken on delivering state funds to illegal alien families for use as K-12 tuition payments to private schools. A great deal of time and trouble could be saved if Georgians could get a signal on this from the new Speaker or the new Lt. Governor – or Gov. Kemp.
Influential national radio show host Erick Erickson predicted a win for commonsense: “I’m fairly certain the Republicans aren’t going to fund illegal aliens going to private school…” was part of the response from Erickson last year to an on-air alert from this writer about the absence of language to exclude illegals in then-pending state legislation.
Soon after that public forecast from Erickson, there were various versions of poorly written and unworkable language purporting to exclude illegal aliens from the proposed “school choice” legislation offered in three separate bills in 2021-2022 General Assembly. So, it’s clear that most members of both chambers are aware of the concern.
Readers who have not heard one of the school choice sales programs for what is also known as “educational freedom” and “fund students, not systems” may want to consider attending an Americans for Prosperity event on the matter this evening in Alpharetta. It looks like presenters will include lobbyist and former GOP state Rep Buzz Brockway and Forsyth County school board member Mike Valdes.
If you go: I’ll wash your car if you let us know if there is any mention of illegal immigration or that according to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, there are only six states with a higher illegal population than Georgia.
One online advertisement for the AFP event includes a reminder of a January proclamation of “School Choice Week” (Jan 22-28) from Gov. Kemp. The proclamation does not say if the governor would sign a bill that provides state funds for future “undocumented workers” to pay K-12 private school tuition.
Neither does it say if a law that excluded illegal aliens from any state-funded school choice benefit would be enforced. Many state laws aimed at illegal immigration aren’t.
- A version of this essay ran posted on the subscription website Insider Advantage, January 24, 2023.
D.A. King is proprietor of ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com and president of the Dustin Inman Society.
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