Bill would allow dreamers to pay in-state tuition for college

Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot spoke to state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who say this issue is all about fairness.

ATLANTA — Young undocumented immigrants known as dreamers could soon qualify for in-state tuition, but only if lawmakers and the governor approve a new plan.

Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot spoke to state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who say this issue is all about fairness.

A dreamer is a person who was brought into this country illegally as a small child so the United States, and Georgia, are the only home they’ve ever known.

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But because they’re undocumented, they have to pay out of state tuition. That could soon change.

Jessica Colotl became Georgia’s best-known dreamer when federal agents tried to deport the Kennesaw State University student after she got a traffic ticket.

Her parents brought her here when she was just 11 years old.

Since then, other dreamers have had to pay out-of-state tuition to attend Georgia colleges and universities, even though they’ve lived most of their lives here and graduated high school.

Republican state Rep. Kasey Carpenter of Dalton just dropped one of three bills that would allow those dreamers to pay in-state tuition at some Georgia schools.

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He says it’s really about fairness.

“These are kids that I go to church with. These are kids I’ve coached in youth sports. These are kids that go to school with my children, so to me, it’s like I said, it’s a fairness issue,” Carpenter said.

Democratic state Rep. Bob Trammell says it’s all about fairness, too. He’s got his own version of the dreamer’s in-state tuition bill.

He told Elliot that he’s encouraged by some bipartisan support.

“I think that speaks to the recognition that we are losing talent and speaks to the fairness issue, and hopefully, that means there’s momentum for things to move forward,” Trammell said.

Democratic state Rep. Pedro Marin, from Gwinnett County, has been fighting for this for 18-years. He says he’s happy to see bipartisan interest in getting these kids some help.

“We’ve got to keep those bright minds. We’ve got to keep them here in Georgia and have them be better citizens for the state,” Marin said.

Carpenter’s version limits this to Georgia schools with less than 98% enrollment.

He does expect an uphill battle to get the bill passed.