Will this impact students if federal funds are taken away?  I ask because, well, I am one.

Group threatens to sue WGTC over classes for illegal immigrants
by Laura Camper/Times-Georgian

The founder and president of the Marietta-based Dustin Inman Society, an organization founded to fight illegal immigration, has threatened to sue Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of West Georgia Technical College, and file a temporary restraining order against the college to halt all public benefits within the college.

Citing two state laws, one of which does not come into effect until January 2010, and two federal codes that define public benefits to include post secondary education funded with state and federal dollars, D.A. King contends that the college is not in compliance with the law because it does not ask for the legal status of people registering for its adult education classes, specifically its free English literacy classes.

“The technical college, while not alone, is very blatant in providing taxpayer benefits to people who are not eligible,” King said. “It is rewarding people who were able to escape capture at our borders, with taxpayer-funded benefits here in Georgia. It’s illegal. It’s immoral. It’s idiotic, and it is costing the taxpayers in Georgia money.”

By not checking the legal status of its prospective students, those who are in the country illegally could easily slip into the classes, which are funded by tax dollars, he said.

West Georgia Technical College, along with all the technical colleges in the system, is following the policy laid out by the Technical College System of Georgia. It may have illegal immigrants in the class, but at this time it is not required to check legal status to provide the classes, said Mike Light, spokesman for the Technical College System of Georgia. The colleges within the system would lose their eligibility for federal funds, a large part of their adult education budgets, if they did not follow the laws. In fact, the college is required by federal law to offer English as a second language classes along with its adult education.

“We’ve reviewed and re-reviewed all our policies and procedures to make sure they’re in compliance with both state and federal laws, and in no way have we found that the way we’re doing things is in any sort of violation,” Light said. “On Jan. 1, 2010, the new law will kick in. At that time, we will be collecting the required affidavits from people participating in the ESL classes, but other than that, as I said, we feel like we’re doing everything in accordance with every law policy and procedure.”

As of Jan. 1, all the colleges in the system will be required to collect affidavits from prospective students proving their legal status in the country and checking their status through Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements System (SAVE). Until the verification comes back, the college will assume it is valid, and the student will be eligible to participate in the classes, Light said. However, at this time, the college is not required to check a person’s legal status, he said.

“It’s pretty hard to be in violation of a law that’s not even in effect yet,” Light said.

This is not the first time King has threatened to sue an agency for its policies. In July 2008, he threatened a temporary restraining order and injunction against the Cobb County Chairman Sam Olens to prevent the county from issuing occupation tax licenses, which are commonly called business licenses. He believed they were violating the same federal codes and state law. The county has since changed its policies, but Cobb officials contend that the county was in compliance with the laws at the time.

“It did not go to trial,” said Robert Quigley, spokesman for Cobb County government. “The county felt it was in our best interest to change how we were running our licensing process prior to that.”

The law can be interpreted differently by different people, he said. The county believes it was in compliance, but did not want to spend time and money on a court case.

King sent an e-mail to Sullivan informing him of his intention to file the legal documents in Carroll County Superior Court against him personally as the president of the college, if the college did not come into compliance. He is giving the college until Sept. 1 before he files the suit, he said.

“We are obviously in a huge, huge budget crisis here,” King said. “We’re cutting back services to citizens left and right. We’re deducting pay from legislators to make up a budget deficit at the same time.”

He hopes that all of Georgia’s colleges will fall into line with his interpretation of the laws along with WGTC. He held out that same hope when he notified Cobb County of his intentions, but not many of the counties have changed their procedures on business licenses after the resolution of the Cobb County issues. The huge majority of cities and counties in the state, including Carroll County and Carrollton, are in violation, he said.