A brief GOP flirtation with a Georgia version of the Dream Act

A few minutes ago, the state Senate approved, on a 34-19 vote, a measure to bar illegal immigrants from Georgia’s 60 public colleges.

The topic, again, was fraught with emotion. But one of the more nuanced voices belonged to the leader of Senate Republicans in the chamber, President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons.

Williams represents south Georgia farm country, and he began by talking about the trouble blueberry, onion and corn farmers have had bringing in their crops since passage of last year’s Republican-backed bill to crack down on illegal immigration in Georgia.

“I have farmers that can’t get labor,” Williams said, predicting that the U.S. will soon begin importing food now raised in Georgia. “If you think dependence on oil is bad, wait ‘til we’re dependent on food.”

But Williams was just getting wound up. The Senate leader then turned to the matter of children in Georgia who would be barred from college – or anything other than an underground future under SB 458. Said Williams:

”The Dream Act…I actually think the Dream Act, or a modified version of it, it would help. I’ve got kids in my schools that are five to 10 years old, just about the size of my daughter – they didn’t come here on their own. They’ve never been, they have no memory of where their parents took them from. And yet the federal government tells us we need to educate them through the 12th grade. And then we say, no, you can’t go through the university system.

“I don’t know how to fix that problem. We’re trying to fix it here. But it’s really a problem the federal government ought to fix. I think they ought to pass some version of the Dream Act.”

Williams was among the GOP majority that voted for SB 458. But before his speech, Williams had passed out an amendment that would have created a Georgia version of the Dream Act – which he later withdrew before it was formally entered into the record. Here’s the gist, from the document:

williamsamend

After his speech, I asked Williams why he withdrew the amendment.

“I would love to do this, but the federal law says, if you do this for anybody in the state — [if] you make this benefit available as a public benefit – then you have to make it available to everybody in the country,” the Senate leader said.

So any young illegal immigrant from any state in the U.S. would be eligible, Williams said. And that would have opened the door too wide, even at out-of-state tuition prices.

Those of you who dismiss Williams’ comments out of hand need to look at this piece from Politico.com:

President Obama leads all his Republican rivals among Latino voters, according to a new poll released Monday.

According to the latest national Fox News Latino survey, none of the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination poll above 14 percent in a head-to-head matchup against Obama. That’s a 17 point drop in support from John McCain’s 2008 share of the Hispanic vote, garnering 31 percent of the that group four years ago.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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123 comments Add your comment

Centrist

March 5th, 2012
4:12 pm

Sorry, Tommy Williams, liberal Democrats and AJC (redundant) – 34 – 19 is a very strong majority of representatives who don’t think citizens should support ILLEGAL residents from taking up space in our taxpayer supported public colleges.

Jon

March 5th, 2012
4:26 pm

I thought they “fixed” the illegal problem last year.

Guess not.

see no evil

March 5th, 2012
4:28 pm

note to self… remind centrist not to cut off nose to spite face…

Marlboro Man

March 5th, 2012
4:30 pm

This will cause more problems than it will solve.

TheMan

March 5th, 2012
4:36 pm

The problem isn’t illegal residents. We as Americans have always looked down on those that don’t look a certain way. Look throughout our history and see how hard it is for certain groups to succeed with the obstacles that have been placed in their way. Why are children born in other countrys any less deserving than those born here? These are the same right to lifers that don’t care about kids once they are born, or are born elsewhere. Suppose to be good Christians…

Saul Good

March 5th, 2012
4:37 pm

Centrist…they pay out of state FULL Tuition…so it costs the state ZILCH.

John

March 5th, 2012
4:42 pm

Why do we want to block illegal immihgrants from getting as much education as they can? If we leave them uneducated and unabhle to get jobs, that just turns them into real criminals instead of somebody who has done nothing wrong. No child who has come into this country because their parents entered illegally has ever done one intentional act. Since a crime requires both an act and an intent, those children are not criminals. They should be able to stay here, go to school here, and get jobs here. And, by the way, I am not a far out liberal.

markie mark

March 5th, 2012
4:46 pm

Saul Good…reading is fundamental….Centrist didnt specify COST, he said Space….and that is because legal residents have been turned away from State Universities due to overcrowding…

No Longer Republican

March 5th, 2012
4:47 pm

The right wingers pandering to hate again. It won’t make a difference in how much our kids pay for college, nor in the budget for the state. But the hate mongers can stand up and say they stopped illegals from getting an education and their “christian” followers will cheer and re-elect them again and again and again. So flippin stupid. When are our “leaders” going to tackle items that actually make a difference?

markie mark

March 5th, 2012
4:49 pm

Both sides of this debate can make good, eloquent defenses of their feelings….the bottom line is the fed’s dropped the ball by running/hiding from this issue for years. I totally believe in controlling our borders…..but we HAVE to have a quick legal guest worker system for our economy.

Atlien

March 5th, 2012
4:50 pm

Who supports them?? From what has been going on in the last year or so it appears that the illegal immigrants are supporting us. I noticed that food especially poultry and produce been on the rise, every time I go to the grocery store the food goes up! Then when you hear the farmers complaining that majority of the crops are going bad. Then I truly wonder!

Also let’s not forget that all of the states that embrace these laws are usually southern states that are piss poor and the last in education! Maybe this should tell you something, our country has been going down the drain and it definitely isn’t the current President or Democrats because the last 4 – 6 months seems to have been working well. Maybe it is due to Obama’s policies slow starting to work?

Anyways I see absolutely no harm in allowing someone that lived in the states for 15 continuous years, has a family, pays taxes, contributes to America, reads, writes and speaks English well, why they shouldn’t be allowed a pathway to citizenship or let them become a legal resident. I don’t think that there are many that would qualify because most of them circulate and maybe stay a few years and leave.

No Longer Republican

March 5th, 2012
4:51 pm

Really Markie? I thought colleges had admission requirements and selected the best students based on grades, test scores, activities, etc. If the illegal students are smarter or work harder shouldn’t we admit them over lazy Georgia kids?

markie mark

March 5th, 2012
4:51 pm

No Longer….when does controlling who crosses our borders translate into hate? Maybe in your twisted logic world, but not in mine….

markie mark

March 5th, 2012
4:51 pm

NO no longer….NO

markie mark

March 5th, 2012
4:52 pm

and if you think ethnicity/income/etc doesn’t play into that selection….well, where the (&(&&% have you been for 20 years?

UrbanEduc8r

March 5th, 2012
4:55 pm

markie mark, you too are mistaken. The five high-demand Universities in the system already turn away undocumented students. The Chancellor himself has said that illegals are not taking spaces away from legal residents, and that the current policy is sufficient. He and the Regents are opposed to this legislation.

SugarHillDawg

March 5th, 2012
4:57 pm

Well Mr. Williams we’ll just switch to another fruit. This the the STUPIDEST scare tactic and frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing it!! Go join the Dem/Libs. Guess you’re under alot of pressure because those farmers are paying you for results huh??Piss on them, if they can’t make a living LEGALLY, switch to one you can!!!! As for you No Longer Republican, I’m glad you aren’t one anymore–BTW that’s a tired old ruse Dem/Libs use.

Michael

March 5th, 2012
5:00 pm

People make their conclusion then say anything they want to support, regardless of the truth. And having attended UGA I can say that many of the “legal” students are just taking up space. Get this, some people enroll just so they can buy student football tickets and then withdraw.

Taking up space my a . . .

Centrist

March 5th, 2012
5:02 pm

It is just plain silly to continually debate this issue with the minority radical left here. The vast majority of our state representatives are doing a good job in reference to ILLEGAL residents since the federal government has reneged. End of story other than waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in June over parts of various state ILLEGAL immigration laws.

Tired

March 5th, 2012
5:03 pm

As a taxpaying GA voter married to a legal immigrant, it is not my responsibility to fund the education of citizens of Mexico, among others. Go home, get to the end of the line, and come back the legal way.

2 in College;1 to Go

March 5th, 2012
5:04 pm

Those kids are still here illegally. I’m tired of my tax dollars going to pay for kids who shouldn’t even be in this country. They can come here, just do it the right way. This doesn’t just go for the hispanics but all the other european, african and indian immigrants who are still here in our country with expired student and work visas.We tend to paint immigrants with one brush, latin, and that’s not the case. While they may be the larger population there is quite a significant number of other nationalities here illegally as well.

blue dog

March 5th, 2012
5:06 pm

This is the beginning of a major split in the GOP here in the south. The conservative farmers used to back Democratic Representatives because they were always voting for their best interest. Then the Religious Right hijacked the GOP. Most farmers are religious ( God please make it rain ), so no problem converting to the new GOP. Now, their very livelihoods are at stake…what to do…continue to support those “God fearing” Republicans, or someone more supportive of farmers.
I maybe wrong, but Tommie Williams could be the beginning of such a shift in Rural America…we shall see.

hacimo

March 5th, 2012
5:08 pm

We are always told that illegals were cool because they only took work that Americans don’t want. So why help them get a college education? Once they get all those skills are they still going pick our veggies and clean out our toilets?

Wally

March 5th, 2012
5:08 pm

This whole issue is insane. Why would we want to educate and pay for illegal immigrants? They are already robbing us blind.What does some people not understand about the word “illegal”. You allow them to attend our Universities and then what? Wake Up People of Georgia.

markie mark

March 5th, 2012
5:10 pm

Urban, I understand and acknowledge your point….however, the intent (I believe) is to remove incentives for illegals to move their entire family here. This still does not solve the problem, which is – the Feds punted on this issue when it needs to be addressed in a major way.

Tired

March 5th, 2012
5:15 pm

Illegals are not entitled to public benefits. For those individuals and advocacy groups who feel the need to educate citizens of foreign countries in GA, there are plenty of private colleges who would gladly accept your private endowments for the education of said uninvited guests. Put your money where your mouth is – but don’t expect GA taxpaying voters to pick-up the tab.

Waldo

March 5th, 2012
5:16 pm

@Atlien They have been paying taxes? News to me. (and before you go down the ‘they pay sales taxes’ road, I’m talking about income tax, property tax, etc.)

hacimo

March 5th, 2012
5:16 pm

blue dog
Ever heard of slavery? That was the previous solution your southern farmers tried when they needed cheap labor. As I recall it didn’t work out so well in the long run. Maybe you guys should finally wise up and try a different business model on your farms. Its called “Automation”. You get these things called “machines”, and then, with the help of these new newfangled contraptions the operator can do the work now done by ten illegals. You get the same amount of crops and the same expense and yet you can pay that man a decent wage. Why you might be able to pay him enough so a real american would work for you. Maybe even a white man.

blue dog

March 5th, 2012
5:27 pm

Hacimo

“Machines”!!!
Here in the “real world” there are no machines that do the work of human worker and, as has been demonstrated, only migrant workers are willing to work in the fields, so, try again…what is your “real world” solution for these farmers.

Not Blind

March 5th, 2012
5:28 pm

Illegal aliens have no moral or legal standing to be inside our borders. Allowing them to stay even temporarily is a slap to the face of the sovereignty and laws of our country. Illegal aliens are a huge monetary strain on all levels of government . They a massively divisive element in our society.

DannyX

March 5th, 2012
5:33 pm

“It is just plain silly to continually debate this issue with the minority radcal left here.”

Centrist, this is another case of you supporting a far right issue. Rick Perry in Texas signed a Dream Act bill in Texas. Gov Rubio and ex Gov Jeb Bush in Florida support the Dream Act.

When the Dream Act was proposed in 2007, 10 Republican Senators voted for it Senators Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

George W Bush was a supporter.

Are these politicians part of the your “minority radical left?”

Not Blind

March 5th, 2012
5:36 pm

@blue dog, any business plan that requires cheap illegal alien labor is no business plan at all.

Not Blind

March 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

@DannyX, no those are not the “minority radical left” they are either Rino’s or sellouts [ same thing ]. They are pandering to a small vocal minority to the detriment of the rest of the country.

td

March 5th, 2012
5:40 pm

Any plan that does not make the illegals go back to their country of origin and get in the back of the line I am opposed too. There is no problem with legal immigration but we are a nation of laws and if you break the law to get here then you should not be rewarded.

Stephen

March 5th, 2012
5:43 pm

I am so sick and tired of all the so called “Patriots” who spew their racially motivated hate under the guise of protectionism. My family is of fifth generation German decent. My forefathers moved here for a better life. I wish that all of you pathetic, hate filled, hypocrites would stop using “illegal” as some sort of bludgeon against those who are different from you. When the English moved here the Native Americans hated them. When the Germans moved here the English hated them. When the Irish moved here the English and Germans hated them. When the Chinese moved here, everyone hated them. Now the Spanish are moving here and those among us who live in constant fear hate them. Where did your ancestors come from? Unless you are 100% Native American, at one point one of your relatives packed up their family, and moved to America in search of a better life. Who the HELL are you to vent your bile on those of this generation who act the same? You who claim to be defending American values; why should those values stop at out borders? Do you truly believe that the rights and liberties we enjoy as Americans are reserved for us alone? Is the rest of the world inferior? (That would make you a racist) This country was founded upon the concepts of individual liberty and universal acceptance. To deny people a better life because they are different from you is un-Christian, un-American, and morally bankrupt. The Georgia legislature is currently attempting to say “You there. You are not worthy of an education because you are not like us”, and we, the nation that would portray itself as the shining light, the great hope, for humanity, are willing to sit by and let them? Since when do freedom, compassion, and love know borders? Will you next call for lynch mobs instead of courts? After all, courts cost “our” money! Incidentally do you realize that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that as many as 75% of illegal immigrants pay local, state, and federal taxes? This includes over 7 billion per year into Social Security that they will never be able to receive any benefit from. If you are about to retire you should be thanking illegal immigrants for helping fund your retirement, rather than listening to mindless demagogues spew hate. Why anyone would want to bar children from receiving an education is beyond me. That is the base of this issue, a group of “Americans” have stood up to be counted, and they have said, “we do not believe that these people are worthy of our help”. You people make me sick. Look into your souls, are you truly prepared to deny a child education because they are different than you?

Aquagirl

March 5th, 2012
5:43 pm

if you break the law to get here then you should not be rewarded.

If your parents brought you here as a toddler, it’s kind of hard to prove intent.

blue dog

March 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

The vast majority of migrant I have met in the construction trades are very hardworking people. I can see where that intimidates many of you on this blog who perhaps do not share these peoples work ethic. So, you degrade them, hoping they will go away. The same thing happened to the Irish immigrants, the jewish, Italian, Polish etc, when they tried to gain a foothold in this country. The result of this infusion of labor has always resulted in stimulating our economy…not the reverse. Economist will tell you we NEED millions of immigrants to improve our economy…so LEGALIZE them and make them pay TAXES. Problem solved….Hell even Regan saw the benefit and decreed mass amnesty to the illegals….

DannyX

March 5th, 2012
5:46 pm

“Rino’s”

Rino’s, LMAO the list of Republicans I listed were either RINO’s or panderers?

George W Bush? Brownback? Lott? Bennett? Hagel? Craig? Rubio, the Republican on the short list for VP?

Of course you totally missed my point anyway, didn’t you Not Blind?

Rush is a Slut

March 5th, 2012
5:49 pm

So who is taking advantage of who? Are we taking advantage of the majority of the illegal immigrants working 12 hour days for minimum wage or less and no health benefits? Or are they taking advantage of us by bringing their kids along for a free education and the opportunity at a better life their parents don’t have at the expense of unemployed citizens who would like to do the work at the wage the illegal immigrants are doing? Seems like a toss up to me. Not so cut and dry if you can get past the fact that they’re here illegally but might actually be giving our country more than they’re getting in return.

JOHN COBB

March 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

It is a shame to have illegals in our Colleges in the first damn place.Rio Salado in Tempe Az is discriminating against Black Americans because they want illegals to run the damn place.

blue dog

March 5th, 2012
5:52 pm

Stephen

Well said.
Most on this blog are small minded bigots who do not know their own history, hence the lack of compassion for anyone else struggling to make a life for themselves….they also “make me sick”.

td

March 5th, 2012
5:55 pm

Stephen

March 5th, 2012
5:43 pm

You are full of crap. The whole issue is about the rule of law. We admit 100’s of thousands of people every year legally and there is absolutely no problem with it. My wife came here legally in the mid 1980’s. She had to wait for more then a year on an island in a camp before she was admitted. She had a sponsor and all the immunizations necessary and a background check done. This is the way one comes to this country. My wife is a US citizen and she and her family think all illegals should be rounded up and sent back and never let back in because they broke in line and slowed down the process for people that are doing it the legal and right way.

Centrist

March 5th, 2012
6:00 pm

The national version of the Dream Act has been introduced in Congress for each of the last 12 years – even when all 3 branches of government have been controlled by Democrats. It has not passed, and will not possibly pass in the near future. Pretending otherwise is – pretending. Meanwhile, individual states are moving the other way.

td

March 5th, 2012
6:01 pm

blue dog

March 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

It does not matter if they are the best people in the world. I can tell you that if life was fair we would trade them for the parasites in our own nation and that would make us a better country, They broke the law to come here so they must go back to their country and wait in the back of the line. How fair is it for the illegals to get to stay while others have been waiting for years and the ones that broke the law are slowing down the process for others to come here legally?

WORKING STIFF

March 5th, 2012
6:10 pm

I would like to thank Rush Limbo for helping us out. We know we can always count on these type people to help us with 4 more years.

Huh?

March 5th, 2012
6:12 pm

td, do you realize that you suggested that life isn’t fair and then proposed that we make the immigration process completely fair? If we make immigration fair then do all other laws need to be fair? That’s could be a dangerous precident.

Stephen

March 5th, 2012
6:16 pm

According to the Dept. of Homeland Security the number of lawful immigrants from Mexico in 2010 (which bizarrely is measured as being 15 months long) was 138,717 it further enumerates how many of these were well educated, rich, and influential. How much did it cost your wife for the whole process? A friend of mine recently helped his wife become a US citizen, she was from Australia, and the total cost was over $200,000 dollars. While I understand your contention that the rule of law should be observed, you should understand that the system is rigged. The US, originally thought of as a new home for the “huddled masses, yearning to breath free” is now only accepting entry to those who can afford to buy it. Should we then punish those modern “huddled masses” for breathing our air? Should we vent our hate and displeasure on innocent children? I support the rule of law, I support a system that would allow any non-criminal, healthy, well intending person to legally enter and work in the United States. Until such a system exists I refuse to accept a program of hate simply because someone is different than me. I understand your concern about line jumping, however the issue is not the same as someone cutting in line at a movie theater. The overwhelming majority of the illegal immigrants to this country are people who would never be able to scrap together enough money to come here legally. To claim that legal immigrants are being forced to wait longer to enter the country is ridicules. Do not attempt to hide fear and hate behind a mask of legality. Your are asking that hundreds of thousands of people DIE from starvation, oppression, crime, and ignorance as they sit on their hands. American was made great by people who seized opportunity by the horns and did what was necessary to survive, not be playing favorites and only accepting those who looked, thought, and acted like us.

Stephen

March 5th, 2012
6:23 pm

Further stats on legal immigration. These statistics are from 2009. For people from all origins family reunification accounts for 66% Humanitarian entry (political asylum) 17% Employment skills (doctors, computer engineers) 13% So for all other reasons including poor migrant farm workers who dream of a better life that leaves 4% Naturally we still expect that they have several hundred thousand dollars to pay in fees and lawyers cost. Displaced refugees have that right?

Centrist

March 5th, 2012
6:28 pm

Business Man posted “How about some full disclosure Jim? You could at least point out that the Landmark poll is done by a well known political consultant that represents Newt. There is no way you are not aware of that!”

Earlier today he had a PPP poll that has Gingrich close to 50% of tomorrow’s GA vote. He also “forgot” to mention that it is a Democratic party poll. And soon we will see Insider Advantage polls that have a history of Democrat bias. Polls are meaningless until close to elections, and even many of them are purposely manipulated. Even averaging polls doesn’t work well because the outliers (in statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data) so skew the results.

There are 422 delegates which are at stake tomorrow and Romney will likely will likely win half or more:

Romney: 200-250
Santorum: 90-120
Gingrich: 50-70
Paul: 20-30

National polls now put Romney well in front of Santorum, and even Mike Huckabee who purposely blocked Romney four years ago because he is a Mormon says he is becoming the consensus candidate. This momentum is only going gather at an increasing rate.

td

March 5th, 2012
6:33 pm

Stephen

March 5th, 2012
6:16 pm

“I support a system that would allow any non-criminal, healthy, well intending person to legally enter and work in the United States.”

That sound like you support open borders? Sorry to let you know but that is an impossible concept. We do not have the resources to take in every person that wants to come here. How do you propose we pay for this open borders system? Why should our neighbors from the south have preference over the rest of the world?

If it is so bad in Mexico then why do not just advocate us invading them and setting up a more just political system. They have as much if not more natural resources as we do so it is not a question about not being able to have a productive society. It is about the will of the people to do so.