Board of Regents can’t alter immigration policy for one Bulldog

Chester Brown (left) showed up at "Dawg Night," a summer camp for elite prospects and was offered a scholarship on the spot. But his dream has been derailed by the state's immigration policy regarding undocumented students.

Georgia recruit Chester Brown (left) had scholarship hopes derailed by the state's policy on illegal immigrants and undocumented students. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

Don Balfour picked up the phone and said the first thing that you would expect when a Georgia state senator gets a phone call from a sportswriter.

“I don’t normally talk to sportswriters,” he said.

To which I responded that I don’t normally talk to politicians, unless you count commissioners, owners, general managers, coaches, some athletes, their agents, public-relations directors … on second thought, never mind.

Sports and politics overlapped this week. Chester Brown, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound mountain of a teenager, was forced to withdraw his  commitment to the Georgia football team because of an immigration issue.

This is where things get kind of screwy. Brown is the son of Samoan immigrants. His mother says Brown was born in the United States, not Samoa, and is a citizen, but the family apparently doesn’t have the proper documentation to prove it. This precludes him from accepting a scholarship from UGA, given the Board of Regents’ tough immigration policy that was passed in July 2011 in the wake of a case involving a Kennesaw State student, Jessica Colotl (who erroneously received in-state tuition, despite being an illegal immigrant).

It’s not my intention to turn this into a column on the illegal-immigration problem in the United States, but I think we can all agree that when the Board of Regents declared that undocumented students and illegal immigrants can’t take away seats from academically qualified Georgia students, nobody figured it would affect the Georgia football team.

Immigration policies are intended to keep the nation safe and protect taxpayers, not wreck pass protection against the Alabama defense.

Balfour is one of the strongest proponents of the Board of Regents’ immigration policy. He acknowledged, “Never in a million years did any of us think this would affect a football team.”

But this case doesn’t cause him to rethink things. Another supporter of the policy, Georgia alum and Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, agrees.

Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said "my blood is red and black" but he doesn't second-guess the immigration policy. (Bob Andres/AJC)

Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said, "My blood is red and black," but he doesn't second-guess the immigration policy. (Bob Andres/AJC)

“You can’t get into the business of making laws tailored to individuals,” Ehrhart said. “I went to school at Georgia. I graduated from there in 1980. My blood is red and black. I love going to football games. But does it make me not want to enact certain [policies]? No.”

So he’ll tell that to the fans who are sitting next to him in Sanford Stadium?

“Oh yeah, thanks a lot. Am I going to wear a T-shirt [advertising it]? No. There’s no self-preservation in that.”

Brown is an unfortunate byproduct of the illegal-immigrant issue. It’s hard not to feel for the kid. He couldn’t control where he was born or whom he was born to.

He went to school in Hinesville after relocating with his family from Long Beach, Calif., in 2004. He accumulated a 3.2 grade-point average and obviously has excelled on the football field. When he showed up at Georgia’s “Dawg Night,” a summer prospect camp, he looked like manna from heaven for a program with offensive line problems.

Brown was offered a scholarship on the spot. Brown gave his commitment, and he was so excited that he had the date, July 15, 2011, tattooed on his arm.

But now there’s some question where he’s from and whether he can prove it. Ironically, Balfour said, it would be easy for Brown to get into UGA if he wasn’t a U.S. citizen because then he would need only apply for a student visa. His claim of being a U.S. citizen mandates he have proper documentation. For unknown reasons, that has not been supplied by the family. (Brown can still attend a school in a state with less-restrictive policies and is looking at Syracuse, Central Florida and Tulane.)

Here’s what shouldn’t be lost in all of this: A law is a law (or in this case, a policy is a policy). Any Georgia fan, conservative or liberal, who has long supported tougher immigration laws can’t suddenly claim their beloved Bulldogs are being wronged.

“I definitely feel bad for the kid,” Balfour said. “I hate that he’s caught in the middle of this.”

Then he added, tongue-in-cheek, the obligatory southern college football conspiracy theory.

“I think this policy must’ve been started by someone from Georgia Tech,” he joked.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

240 comments Add your comment

Dan

January 26th, 2012
4:28 pm

Jaw Jaw Homer

January 26th, 2012
4:30 pm

Momma why we gotta cheat to compete?

Jaw Jaw Homer

January 26th, 2012
4:32 pm

Nick Saban wouldn’t be so stupid

Jaw Jaw Homer

January 26th, 2012
4:36 pm

Momma why is Coach Ricth such a scum bag?

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
4:36 pm

If this were the 1930s or 1940s, that law would have been changed overnight. I’m glad to see that some things have changed.

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
4:37 pm

Could he get in Tech IF he qualified? As I read the POLICY he could play for Tech. Tech isn’t FULL and turning away kids but UGa is.

Ginger

January 26th, 2012
4:47 pm

I agree that we have go by laws and that laws are made for the whole and not the individual.

Now–I also think that there are ways to fix this which would be legal. The kid is a good kid…Had the day he committed to UGA tatooed on his arm…This is not the kid’s fault.

So I am praying for him and for God to work on his behalft and work out a great solution to the Glory of God. Would appreciate others of faith–saying a prayer for Chester Brown.

And Chester if you are reading this—Keep the faith and pray…God is an awesome God !!!! Prayer works…..Believe that something good is going to happen to you !!!

BullDogMike

January 26th, 2012
4:53 pm

You can rest assured that had he been a recruit at Bama or Fla. for example,there would be nothing but open arms for him. And I mean policy or no policy he would have gotten in..

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
4:54 pm

I don’t think going to UGA could possibly be considered to be to the glory of God. LOL

beachdog

January 26th, 2012
4:58 pm

Ding-a-ling Republican politicians just cost us a good maybe great O-Lineman.

When will folks learn?

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
4:59 pm

BullDogMike ALABAMA has the same wording in their HB56 on illegal/ undocumented students.

brad

January 26th, 2012
5:00 pm

jaw jaw…learn to spell before you open your pie-hole

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:00 pm

bleachdog, sorry, bubba, but the world doesn’t revolve around UGA effing football.

Good Grief

January 26th, 2012
5:01 pm

I’m sure someone can find his birth certiciate – I mean come on now they found one from Kenya after searching all over Hawaii for it :-)

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:01 pm

beachdog MAYBE you don’t get an O-Limemen but maybe the kid that gets that seat can be the VET Student that can keep the Bulldog Mascots ALIVE more than a year.

dallasdawg

January 26th, 2012
5:02 pm

Supersize that order mutt….get back to mopping my floors u little techie

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:02 pm

Or the one who gets that seat might be the pre-Med student who discovers a cure for cancer. But NOOOOO, you’re more concerned about the effing football team.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:03 pm

dallas, I bet mopping your floors would bring more glory to God than some kid playing football in Athens

Danny O

January 26th, 2012
5:04 pm

It is unwise to keep hard-working, talented individuals out of our universities. Our loss will be the gain of competitors in other parts of the country.

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:05 pm

GOD Loves CMR and the DWAGS. Going to college at the DFBWGC&P is for the glory of God. god at UGa just happens to be Leebern’s Liquor.

Rothschild

January 26th, 2012
5:07 pm

Samoa is a territory of the United States. Why should this be a problem?

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:08 pm

DANNY O it is a FREAKING GAME. Now if he was a GREAT & HIGHLY INTELLIGENT Student you might have an argument.

Jaw Jaw Homer

January 26th, 2012
5:08 pm

I be a jaw jaw gradjewit

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:09 pm

Rothschild, did you ever look at a geography or history book or a map? AMERICAN SAMOA is a US Territory. His family didn’t come from AMERICAN SAMOA. DUHHH

Jaw Jaw Homer

January 26th, 2012
5:10 pm

I made A+’s in spelling at jaw jaw. RTR

Old Blind Dawg

January 26th, 2012
5:10 pm

LOL @ Good Grief – sad and true.

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:12 pm

Rothschild…….catch up. US Samoan is a territory West Samoan isn’t and beyond that he CLAIMS to be born in the US. If he was a FOREIGN student(West Samoa) he could get a Student Visa like the 9/11 pilots. If he were to PROVE he were US Samoan he could get in. HE SAYS HE WAS BORN HERE and can’t PROVE IT. Does that make it easier for you to UNDERSTAND?

dallasdawg

January 26th, 2012
5:12 pm

Super size that order…no talking techie just mopping please, oh and don’t forget to walk my dawg and take out the trash(yourself included). lmao

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:14 pm

dallasdawg, since this is neither a UGA blog nor a Tech blog, I guess we’re both entitled to say anything we want to. But since I made my post first, I’ve got the upper hand here by default. LOL

Guyr

January 26th, 2012
5:14 pm

Speaking as a legal immigrant myself, it’s not hard to get the documentation. Just order the birth certificate from the appropriate state authorities.

Guyr

January 26th, 2012
5:15 pm

Not that I am in any way defending or supporting Georgia’s egregious anti-immigration policies in any way.

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:18 pm

Guyr you can’t be telling the truth. Georgia is all for IMMIGRATION. You do it through the PROPER Channels as I figure you did.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:20 pm

The US is a nation of IMMIGRANTS, but they were all LEGAL ones.

dallasdawg

January 26th, 2012
5:21 pm

One win in what ten years and you think you have the upper hand…now that is funny. Thanks man, for I have not laugh like that since I visited that cesspool of a stadium you techies play in this past November…lol

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:24 pm

dallas, I just said I had the upper hand over you. And that actually was pretty easy to do

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:26 pm

BTW, dallas, the term cesspool is reserved for Athens and for historical reasons. In case you didn’t know it, Sanford and Son Stadium was built on top of a sewerage drainage ditch, or something like that. There is actually a valid reason for denigrating Athens with the term “cesspool.” There is no reason at all for using that term for Tech, other than just stupidity.

Whatever happened to Chip Towers

January 26th, 2012
5:30 pm

Instead of just wishing the player good luck at wherever he ends up why doesn’t some of the legal beagles at UGA attempt to help him get a birth certificate? I think if an effort was made then a satisfactory result would happen. FINISH THE DRILL UGA

Steve

January 26th, 2012
5:36 pm

I see “Supersize” still has no girlfriend (or maybe boyfriend?) or friends. Poor guy.

Whatever happened to Chip Towers

January 26th, 2012
5:36 pm

Supersize that brain dufus. Since you are so knowlegeable about cesspools one could assume that you creeped out of one. Stupidity would be a good term describing SOME Tech fans including your little manly deficient self. Is your nickname Pee Wee for obvious reasons?

ignition

January 26th, 2012
5:41 pm

Dumb Redneck fans…
Dumb Redneck state..
Dumb Redneck college..
Dumb Redneck policies..
Glad it bit them in the butt…

Trojan

January 26th, 2012
5:43 pm

The headline to this article seems to indicate that someone ask that there be an exception to the rule.

I guess headlines (even if misleading) can lead to more clicks on a blog.

Steve

January 26th, 2012
5:44 pm

5150, HAHAHA Tech fans come on here with no life and start making comments about UGA players and fans. When will you losers ever accept you are SECOND and always will be in this state? It’s not even close!

Trojan

January 26th, 2012
5:44 pm

If you can become a president without documentation, surely you can get a football scholarship.

Seriously, what is different from this student and a student that is from another country. Didn’t Tech just sign a guy from Australia?

Whatever happened to Chip Towers

January 26th, 2012
5:46 pm

Rep Eebhardt if your blood is red and black then make an effort as a Dawg Fan to help Chester get a birth certificaate.

ARdawg

January 26th, 2012
5:46 pm

Schultz
Why isn’t he able to re-apply as a foreign student?

ARdawg

January 26th, 2012
5:49 pm

It’s not that difficult to apply for Adjustment of Status. Is nobody in the entire Athletic program looking at alternatives other than kicking the kid to the curb?

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:52 pm

Trojan…………The TECH commit is a Foreign student with a STUDENT VISA. Are you so DUMB you can’t understand that? the 9/11 terrorist were on Student Visas and learning to Fly at American Schools.

C. BROWN doesn’t have DOCUMENTATION. Can you read Stupid? READ

Wh2Chip…..you really want to spend TAXPAYER money to let an illegal/undocumented high school football player to get an EXCEPTION to be a UGa MUTT? really?

Steve

January 26th, 2012
5:52 pm

It’s always good to see immigration reform laws working as intended. Regardless of whether Mr. Brown was born in the States, he obviously spent the vast majority of his life (if not his entire life) here, worked hard, did well in school and put himself in a position to earn a scholarship at a good university. The result: punish him for what his parents (apparently) did 18 years ago and not let him attend college.

I’m sure some “real” American kid with a 2.5 GPA will fill Mr. Brown’s spot nicely.

Mission Accomplished, xenophobes

5150 UOAD

January 26th, 2012
5:53 pm

If you guys REALLY care about the kid going to college and playing ball then help him get in TECH or Ga State, or Valdosta.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 26th, 2012
5:55 pm

Interesting how I simply state an opinion and give a little history lesson, and the only thing you dummies can come up with in response is to call me names. I didn’t call any of you any names. Granted my opinion about “giving glory to God” was a little over the top, but what I said about the cesspool is HISTORY, and my feelings about immigration are probably shared by most of you, except, apparently, when it comes to UGA football. If you notice, I didn’t even criticize the kid; in fact in a way, I feel sorry for him. But the law is the law. The fact that the best you guys can come up with is to call me names merely shows how immature you are.