Political Insider

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Georgia’s higher ed system urged to consider ‘sanctuary campus’ stance

Several private colleges in Georgia have signaled they're prepared to defy Donald Trump if he tries to deport immigrants who are illegally in the U.S. Now the state’s public colleges could weigh whether to take a stance.

At Armstrong State University’s faculty Senate meeting last week, leaders of the Savannah school said they would ask the University System of Georgia’s faculty council to craft a resolution for the public school system.

“We don’t know how much support there will be from all the other schools,” said Clifford Padgett, the Senate president, according to the Inkwell, the school’s student publication. “But ... I know we would like to put in a united front.”

His remarks came as Armstrong faculty  discussed declaring the school a “sanctuary campus,” which is fast becoming a familiar debate in Georgia campuses.

Administrators at Emory University and Agnes Scott College have indicated they would support undocumented students, known as “Dreamers,” who were granted a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation by an executive order from President Barack Obama.

The move could have powerful repercussions. A powerful Georgia lawmaker, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, has threatened to cut off public funding to schools that violate federal immigration law. Such a decision could cost private schools tens of millions of dollars in grants, tuition assistance programs and other funding.

Students and faculty from more than 100 universities have called on their administrators to declare themselves sanctuaries or otherwise protect undocumented students after Trump’s election. The president-elect has vowed to deport the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally, though it’s unclear how he’ll handle students and other young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

They are borrowing the term from the handful of major cities – and dozens of smaller ones – that have declared themselves “sanctuary cities.” Though the meaning varies widely, it typically signals that the city won’t work with federal immigration authorities to hand over people in the country illegally.

Related AJC coverage:

‘UGA could have had my brain’: Immigration rules bar students, spark lawsuits

Another Atlanta college vows to support students in the U.S. illegally

Emory could lose state funding if it declares a ‘sanctuary campus’ to shield immigrants

Emory University considers declaring ‘sanctuary campus’ after Trump’s win

Atlanta mayor vows support for young immigrants following Trump’s win

Former chancellor condemns Georgia’s immigrant admissions policies

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.