Tuition charges for immigrants a constructive transfer for Georgia’s economic system

From the guest columnist ISRAEL MAPLE, Surgical technician and Grammy winner

It’s a promising New Year, especially after the tumultuous election season. There is certainly no time to lose when it comes to promoting sensible solutions that diversify our workforce while also making our state more competitive and successful. Fortunately, this seems to be exactly what Georgian MP Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) is working on.

Israel maple

Legislators have taken swift action to reintroduce a tuition fee bill, House Bill 120, which gives recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), also known as dreamers, a fair chance at higher education. The legislation would provide for state tuition fees for students who meet certain criteria. Last year, due to the pandemic and uncertainty surrounding the DACA program, even under the Trump administration, the bill stalled on committee.

While there still remains some uncertainty as to how Houston District Court Judge Andrew Hanen reviews the legality of DACA in a lawsuit filed by Texas and eight other states, many dreamers saw temporary signs of relief after last year’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of the program and President Biden’s recent restoration efforts. While Congress works to provide a path to citizenship for dreamers, it is important that Georgia do everything it can to support dreamers, to strengthen the Georgian economy and keep our booming business environment on track.

I’m one of more than 30,000 DACA-eligible residents in Georgia. The equality of tuition fees for young undocumented immigrants will do more than just expand access to government education opportunities. It will also help develop our state’s workforce by addressing critical work gaps and labor shortages as we work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuition charges for immigrants a constructive transfer for Georgia’s economic system

The author prepares equipment for surgical intervention in an operating room. Photo credit: via

For years dreamers have lived in a state of uncertainty, constantly worried about what their future might be. Indeed, all undocumented immigrants were forced to live with the consequences of misguided policies that limited their opportunities to find hope and a new life in the United States. This is true even though immigrants are extremely important to our state and our nation’s COVID-19 response.

I’ve always wanted to take care of my neighbor, which led me to my current job as a surgical technician. My goal is to work hard and integrate with the team, which is exactly what thousands of young immigrants and dreamers want to do in their Georgia communities.

While state and federal executives work to find lasting solutions for DACA recipients, enabling young immigrants to leverage their talents and skills through fair and equitable access to higher education is a step in the right direction. The fairness of tuition fees is a big step forward in ensuring that young immigrants are given the opportunity to take advantage of higher education opportunities and join the Georgian workforce.

Rep. Kasey Carpenter

Without access to state tuition, dreamers cannot fully participate in the American economy. Georgia loses an estimated $ 10 million in tax revenue because Dreamers is banned from tuition fees. Georgia also has a labor shortage in key industries that need more college graduates to fill these positions, regardless of their country of origin or their parents’ legal status in the United States. With all the economic challenges we face today, we should support the higher education of young Georgia immigrants so that they can fill jobs and bring more money back into our economy.

Study justice should always have a place in our society. Given the current state of our country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, its importance is only further emphasized. Although vaccines are more prevalent and the struggle to return as a nation is still in full swing, the only way immigrants can help in these efforts is by taking on vital jobs and contributing to the industries they need.

The author (right) works on an operating team that helps in an operating room. Photo credit: via

Today we have the opportunity to work together towards a more humane and civil immigration system that will benefit the competitiveness and business environment of our state. Ultimately, most Americans agree that immigrants are a good thing for our country because they give back and enrich our communities beyond measure. With immigrants representing more than 10% of the nurses and 18% of the health workers in Georgia, it is certainly right that the immigrant community will continue to support our families and businesses. Without access to fair higher education, however, a significant proportion of the essential jobs will not be filled. Fortunately, this bill will help young immigrants continue to participate in the struggle as it is far from over.

Ultimately, Georgia’s dreamers are entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses, and engineers who live, work, and contribute to almost every community across the state. I have always known that my immigrant community is extremely hardworking, especially in the face of adversity. Therefore, it is no longer time to make real reforms that can benefit everyone. I applaud Rep. Carpenter for realizing their potential in reintroducing this solid law. I urge state lawmakers to swiftly review and adopt this important policy so that more immigrants from Georgia can seek higher education and contribute to our recovering economy.

Note to readers: Israel Arce is one of the millions of key workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, in his case through his work as a surgical technician. Due to the lack of a route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Israel has not been able to see its parents for 6 years.