In addition to being grateful to editor/publisher Sue Horn for the space to write here about illegal immigration in Georgia, I am also a Star News reader. As such, it seems there was something glaringly absent from the previous three editions of this newspaper. I am very curious to know if other readers agree.
I was looking for and expected a correction from Republican Senator Mike Dugan. Was anyone else?
In the June (print) edition of Star News, I wrote about a Democrat bill pending under the Gold Dome that deals with changing a law that effects tuition costs in our public-funded colleges and the definition of “resident” used to determine eligibility for instate tuition. SB 264 is a Democrat bill on which Sen. Dugan is the number one cosponsor. The headline over my column then was “SB 264: Americans last college tuition legislation” which reflects my view of the bill.
My experienced opinion is based on the language in the legislation and understanding what would happen if it became law.
Here is that exact wording with my own emphasis on what I regard as the “Americans last” part: “noncitizen students admitted to the United States as refugees pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1157; as special immigrants pursuant to Public Law 110-181, Section 1244, as amended, Public Law 109-163, Section 1059, as amended, or Section 602(b) of Title VI of Division F of Public Law 111-8, as amended; or as humanitarian parolees pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1182(d)(5)(A) shall be classified as in-state for tuition purposes immediately upon settlement in Georgia; provided, …”
Simply put for people who don’t read and work with state legislation on a regular basis, SB 264 says that “special immigrants” (known as “SIVs”) and otherwise illegal aliens who are granted Biden’s ‘humanitarian parole’ to legally enter the U.S. could migrate to Georgia and be eligible for the much lower instate tuition rate in our public colleges the same day they arrive.
The bill would alter current state law that requires all new Georgia residents to live here for a year before they are allowed to access the instate tuition rate. That “all” description includes the above foreigners as well as Americans who move here from other states.
The current instate tuition at West Georgia College is $2,732 (15+ hours). The current out-of-state tuition is $9,641 (15+ hours) per semester (westga.edu).
As I wrote, SB 264 does not change the fact that an American student from Michigan (for example) would still have to wait twelve months to qualify for the lower tuition while it allows a new student from Afghanistan to qualify upon arrival.
Sue Horn, the Star News editor quite correctly passed my column on to Sen. Dugan before the June edition deadline so that he could respond to my opinion of the bill on which he is a cosponsor in the same (June) edition. His reply ran directly below my space. But it was full of numerous obvious, easily refuted inaccuracies.
Just two examples:
- Dugan told readers here that the bill “…never even got a committee hearing…” The fact is that I watched the March 16, 2023 Senate Higher Education Committee hearing on SB 264 myself. There was no vote. I posted a link to that meeting with a video of the hearing and a transcript of the proceedings on my website.
- Dugan also told readers – and constituents – that “the language in SB 264 already exists in Georgia law with the exception of the term “Special Immigrants.” It doesn’t. Again, SB 264 eliminates the existing law that says the “Special Immigrants” and humanitarian parolees must live here a year before qualifying for instate tuition – just like Americans do.
The July Star News edition contained my point-by-point explanation of those false statements along with references and citations that illustrate the truth. Ms. Horn headlined it “Pending legislation creates a benefit and significant monetary savings for foreign nationals that is not available to Americans.”
Readers who want to review all of this can access these columns on ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com by entering “Mike Dugan” in the search bar. Please be reminded that despite what Sen Dugan wrote in June, SB 264 is quite alive and viable in the state Capitol for next year.
There has been no correction or explanation from Senator Dugan (contact info) in the editions of this newspaper that were published after his June rebuttal column. I checked with Ms. Horn to be sure I had not missed something. I also contacted Sen Dugan asking for any input he wanted to offer for this article but as I write on deadline on October 3rd, I have not received a reply.
So, I’ll end where I began on top. Did any other readers think they were owed a correction or explanation of any of this from Senator Dugan? I would like to hear from you either way.
It would be a shame if voters were not paying attention or are somehow timid enough to ignore the unapologetic, outrageously erroneous statements on Democrat legislation from a Republican state senator in their community newspaper.
- A version of this column is also published in the October 15, 2023 print edition of the (Carroll County) Star News.