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Georgia lawmaker introduces bill banning illegal immigrants from public universities

A member of the Georgia House of Representatives [official website] introduced legislation on Wednesday to ban enrollment of illegal immigrants [HB 25 text; materials] in public post-secondary education institutions. The bill, introduced by Rep. Tom Rice (R) [official website], amends Title 50, Chapter 36 [text, PDF] of the Georgia code to include post-secondary education among the public benefits that require a verification of lawful presence in the US. Last month, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia [official website], adopted a policy under which five Georgia universities were effectively barred from admitting illegal immigrants [AP report] starting fall 2011. The legislation will be considered by the state legislators in January.

The issue of illegal immigration [JURIST news archive] has been the subject of legislation and lawsuits across the country. On Tuesday, the California Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that illegal immigrants are eligible to receive in-state tuition benefits at California's public colleges and universities. The court concluded that the California law did not violate federal immigration law because the exemption was not based on formal legal residency. Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] denied motions to dismiss a class action lawsuit [JURIST reports] challenging the constitutionality of the controversial Arizona immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. Under the law, it is designated a crime to be in the country illegally, and immigrants unable to verify their legal status could be arrested and jailed for six months and fined $2,500. In September, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] ruled that two ordinances passed by the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, making it more difficult for illegal immigrants to live or work in the town are unconstitutional [JURIST report].

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