ATLANTA – A Georgia lawmaker has an answer for universities in the state that plan on providing a sanctuary for illegal immigrant students: no more state funding.
State Rep. Earl Ehrhart plans to introduce legislation to end state funding for schools that ignore state and federal laws, a response to the private Emory University’s announcement last week that it’s considering a request to make the college campus a sanctuary for illegal immigrant students, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“Private institutions can do what they want, but there are consequences to actions. And it can’t be an option to choose not to follow state and federal laws,” said Ehrhart, chairman of the House higher education committee.
“There’s a raft of state taxpayer dollars for private institutions,” he said, “and I’m very sanguine about being able to pass a piece of legislation that says if you’re picking and choosing which laws you’re going to follow, state dollars aren’t going to follow.”
“If they’re talking about providing ‘sanctuary,’ i.e. the ability to not be constrained under the laws of this country – whether its immigration law or a state law with respect to those types of activities – then if they break that law because of their pro-sanctuary status, at that point, they would lose the funds,” he told WABE.
Numerous student groups and staff at Emory sent a letter to college officials urging them to protect the college campus from Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests, interviews, searches and surveillance; provide legal support and mental health services for undocumented students; shield student information from the government; and expand the network of administrators and financial aid services for illegal immigrant students.
The university responded with a statement that officials are considering the requests that also pointed out that the university “follows all federal laws and policies and will continue to do so.”
“In the statement, it said Emory uses private, non-governmental resources to offer scholarships to students with DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for students who were brought to the country as children,” WABE reports.
President Obama created the DACA program through executive order in 2012 and many social justice advocates fear President-elect Trump will end the program.
“Since its launch, DACA has provided a two-year reprieve from deportation and temporary eligibility to work legally in the United States to more than 728,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children,” according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Current ICE policy directs agents not to pursue illegal immigrants in places like schools, hospitals, churches, and other similar “sensitive” locations.
“As a matter of policy, ICE already does not conduct enforcement at educational institutions in accordance with its sensitive locations policy,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told WABE.