In a Secret Classroom in Georgia, Immigrants Learn to Hope

In a Secret Classroom in Georgia, Immigrants Learn to Hope 2

Rich Addicks for The Chronicle

"I knew that I was undocumented," says Martín López, 21, who works as a roofer in north Georgia. "I didn't really see college as an option." Then he met a young woman who told him about some professors who were teaching college-level courses to aspiring students like him.

With no immigration papers and few job prospects, Martín López graduated from high school in 2009 and went to work as a day laborer. From the rooftops of north Georgia, he watched other people's lives unfold, while his own options seemed only to constrict. He felt invisible, angry, and stuck.

That summer, Mr. López's frustrations simmered under the Georgia sun. He had never shared his high-school classmates' optimism about the future. They talked about college and