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Kennesaw State U. Case Prompts Question: Should Admissions Offices Enforce Immigration Law?

The case of a 21-year-old illegal immigrant who has nearly finished her undergraduate degree at Kennesaw State University has put the Georgia institution at the center of the debate over whether local officials—in this case, a public college’s admissions office—should be responsible for helping to enforce the nation’s immigration laws. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today that Georgia’s public colleges do not ask applicants to prove their citizenship or their legal immigration status, and while the colleges take steps to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving benefits—like paying cheaper in-state tuition rates—that policy took effect only after the 21-year-old student, Jessica Colotl, was admitted. Ms. Colotl was arrested in March for a driving infraction that led local authorities to determine she was in the country illegally, having been brought to the United States as a child. The university did not know of her status until that point, and critics, including a Republic gubernatorial candidate, have demanded that colleges start checking the nationality of all students. The University System of Georgia’s chancellor, Erroll B. Davis Jr., said that, at $25 to $50 for each of the system’s 300,000 students, such checks would be unaffordable. Legislation pending in Congress would provide a path to citizenship for students like Ms. Colotl.

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