Posted: 5:44 pm Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

A cipher in the ‘dream’ kid debate tries to stay afloat 

By Jim Galloway

Marco was stretched out on a hard chair in a beat-up DeKalb County school conference room, in the presence of a former teacher who’s taken up for him.

He is a bright, skinny and well-spoken 16-year-old with a flat American accent. “I try to work on it. I spent my summer in Athens. It gets better there,” Marco said.

Pronunciation slipped only when he named the Mexican village whence he came. Marco was smuggled across the border into the United States not once, but twice. First when he was a 4-year-old, then again when he was eight. “My mom knew a guy,” he offered.

Marco is now one of President Barack Obama’s “dream” kids, one of thousands of under-aged children who accompanied illegal immigrant parents into the country, and who now have been granted provisional legal residency here.

He is a mere cipher in our argument over what we should do about the millions of paperless people who now live among us – which at bottom is a debate over human capital.

But Marco may also be the only kid in metro Atlanta who has been threatened with two extra years of high school by a judge. This will no doubt come as a surprise to the jurist, who has never met Marco.

In June, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger dismissed – however reluctantly – a lawsuit challenging the Georgia law that requires “dream” kids to pay out-of-state tuition for their college educations. The judge did this even as he recognized that the 39 would-be students were “intelligent individuals who seek to better themselves through education and are presumably the type of people, residents, that this state wants and needs.”

The decision is under appeal.

But for now, Georgia has drawn a bright line between high school and college that children of the undocumented aren’t allowed to cross – not without a great deal of cash, which they almost always lack.

But what happens when the line between high school and college blurs? Why, Marco happens.

Marco is one of 340 students who attend the DeKalb Early College Academy, a public school and academic boot camp aimed at kids from families without any college in their histories.

The program crams four years of high school into two. Students who survive are then introduced into Georgia Perimeter College for another two years of schooling. When they emerge at 18, they have not only a high school diploma, but an associate bachelor’s degree.

Wimps need not apply. “You’re looking at a kid who got into a highly competitive program that has kids ready for college in two years instead of four. And he has a part-time job,” said DECA principal Edward Conner, vouching for Marco. “He’s a great kid.”

Marco has completed the two-year grind, so now comes college. On Monday, his DECA classmates were charged somewhere north of $300 each for their first semester at GPC. Marco was hit with a bill approaching $4,500 – the price of out-of-state tuition at that institution.

A 16-year-old wimp would have walked away. Marco did not. He came up with $2,500 from that summer job in Athens – enough to pay for a reduced course load. In 16 weeks, he’ll have to come up with it again.

Marco’s father is a cook. His mom cleans offices. “They’re not in the best situation to help me out,” the kid said.

If Marco wanted to settle for just a high school diploma, he could return to a regular high school – in this case, Cross Keys High School. “Yeah, I’d be the brightest kid there. Yeah, I would work the hardest. But I would lose two years of my life,” he said.

The kid’s goals have succumbed somewhat to what George W. Bush once called the tyranny of low expectations. “My aim was architecture, because I’m good at math. But being realistic, architecture seems a bit too far for me right now,” Marco said. “I’m good at many other things. I can repair phones. I know how to produce movies and videos – I know all of that stuff.”

There is a first forum today in Macon, sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, between two candidates for U.S. Senate – Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn.

I plan to be in the audience, but if I had the chance, this is the one question I would pose: What do we do with Marco? Do we have enough bright, driven barn-burners that we can afford to let this one sink? If the answer is no, then how do we make room for him?

Human capital is a perishable thing. The clock is ticking for Marco and kids like him. But while others dither, he does not. One of his two courses at Georgia Perimeter College is in history. The topic hasn’t been his best subject – he got a “B” the last time.

He is sometimes overwhelmed by the myriad of details that need to line up just right in order to produce any single event. “One little slip-up, and we wouldn’t be here today,” Marco said. Amen and amen.

61 comments
susanpegsmen
susanpegsmen

we need more illegals and fewer blacks. The current narrative is that the Hispanics will be much better and won't be a permanent underclass like blacks

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Another day at the office where @td1234 (oppressor) is complaining about the oppressed finding their way out of the darkness.  If your family lineage does not consist of Seminole, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw or Creek Indians then your family too started out like the undocumented children in this story. You had nothing to do with how your family got here (neither does Marco) and your children have nothing to do with what their ancestors did to get them here (neither does Marco). I am pretty sure that your ancestors worked their butts of just as Marco is doing to make a life for their families in this country regardless of how they got here. In fact if you stopped and took the time to research (something you don't do) I guarantee you that Marcos story is no different than the story of many of the twelve million immigrants who entered the United States through the port of Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. To make a long story short td1234 we are all immigrants to this country.  Some of us got here by way of Columbus, some by way of Ellis Island, some by way of Ronald Reagan and some by slavery.  The indigenous American Indian is the only one who did not get here by cargo and the last time I checked they really don't give a damn about what the European white man is saying about who can come into their country.

td1234
td1234

I am a resident of Georgia but own a home in Florida.  My children would get charged out of state tuition in Florida to attend college. Why should an illegal alien that is not a citizen of the nation and therefore can not be a legal resident of a state be afforded advantages over my citizen children?    


AWA1
AWA1

If the family has been paying state taxes, then with some documentation of that fact, the student should be charged in-state rates. Otherwise, out-of-state is the appropriate rate. 

SouthGeorgiareader
SouthGeorgiareader

Treat this kid like all other Georgia resident students.  With his intellect and drive, he'll be a productive citizen and pay taxes, which is the hope we have for all students.  He is motivated, and we ought to help him succeed.  He doesn't need remediation, just a chance to go to college. Why not?

Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

Your questions are not legitimate. Your questions would have readers assume that our political social politicies, which created the market for America's illegal aliens, are legitimate. BTW-When did you quit beating your wife?  

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

Let him get a student loan if he wants to get an education in Georgia. Also, technically he is a citizen of a foreign country, does that country not have any colleges and universities he could attend?

Peachs
Peachs

If Marco could only play football or basketball none of this would matter.

Coke has this secret formula and so does Georgia only in this state it is a stubbornness to fail, to die mumbling falsehoods taught by generations of failure. When we were a Democrat state some truth drifted into our thinking, only because we had to entertain the rest of the party as they came through Georgia. Now we have taken over a very weak character and made it our own in the GOP. No one challenges our thinking, they just let us rot and we pretend that is fine with us.

If this cruelty we sponsor helped this state climb out of the basement of economic depression I would turn my head, but this self mutilation in mental illness.It almost takes a wicked talent to mess up a state bless with so much as ours, not sure the average man could do this thorough a job.

Starik
Starik

This is a kid who is talented and intelligent; don't you get it that depriving him - and us - of his potential hurts him and us? 

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

Why does every kid - legal or illegal - have the mentality that they must attend college???  There are some very skilled positions out there - plumber, electrician, etc. that do not require a college education and pay pretty darn well.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

"Children who have lived here pretty much all of their lives are to be shipped back to a country they don't know. Very humane of us. We are all immigrants. Some of us were fortune enough to have ancestors who arrived before quotas."


What a crock!  Some of us are native American Indians; most of us are relatives of those who came here lawfully which is a big, big difference from those here illegally that seems to be lost in the pea-sized liberal mind-set.

Bernie31
Bernie31

De Yella Teeth Republican Governor loved by all od de Republicans all over de state of Georgia, don't Share none of yer Thinkin...De Child Hatin Governor sey de Boy ought to GIT!  Rat NOW!


Git outta Georgia..and git back to his own town,guberment and his own Kin FOLK!


De King Governer sey de Boy might GIT sick and he ain't gonna pay fer NUTHIN...not if He ain't gotta..


Ain't de Governor a Kind and loving Man dat make yer feel all warm an FUZZY inside....Like he


gots de biggest Heart...


But he ain't GO NO HEART...No Jesus either.


By de Way ...he want all of yer to give him a Second Chance in November.....He is smilin at yer now.


Let me put muh shades on....All dat Yella sushine is hurtin Muh eyes.

DS
DS

Great story, Jim. Lots to think about.

One thing seems clear, though: the out-of-state tuition rule for children of illegal immigrants doesn't make sense.

Charging more tuition for out-of-state students usually makes sense because the families of those students haven't been paying taxes in state, and taxes are used to subsidize the cost of college education at public universities. For this reason, out-of-state students should pay more.

But the out-of-state tuition requirement for people like Marco wasn't done for that reason. His family lives in Georgia and pays taxes in Georgia. The out-of-state tuition requirement for people like Marco was enacted simply to slap the face of people in his situation out of frustration and anger over illegal immigration. A "Lou Dobbs" emotional response.

Marco should only have to pay out-of-state tuition if, you know, he's from out of state. Otherwise, no.

NWGAL
NWGAL

Children who have lived here pretty much all of their lives are to be shipped back to a country they don't know. Very humane of us. We are all immigrants. Some of us were fortune enough to have ancestors who arrived before quotas.

EdUktr
EdUktr

The 20 million Americans and legal immigrants who are unable to find full-time work aren't confused about what to call those who who break our immigration laws: Illegal aliens. 

Marco should take his skills home to Mexico and help develop it.

lithoniaguy
lithoniaguy

@susanpegsmen nobody told u to have 3 kids by 3 different black guys....but i'm glad the country is getting darker...lol;

Bernie31
Bernie31

@susanpegsmen - I would suggest yer head on over to Wade & Sons and Lay down Now.

I understand they have a prepayment plan that works very well. They are jest DYING to meet Yer!


LOL....rofl...lmbao.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@susanpegsmen  Oh, jeez. Please, folks---don't go down this blogging path.


Actually, susanpegsmen, just wait about 15-20 years, and you'll have more illegals (and legal Hispanics), more blacks, and fewer whites. Won't that make you feel good?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@td1234 Two issues here: residency and the definition of "illegal." You have not resided in Florida, so how can you claim Florida residency?  You can't. The crucial point in Marco's case is that he and his family have resided in Georgia for most of his life up to the present, and so they claim residency---which they fulfill.


Florida has decided legislatively that the DECA immigrants are here legally because they are covered by DECA law. You may personally disagree strongly, but this is that state's decision. States' rights, you know.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

Oh, your life is so hard. You don't know which home to declare your primary residence (which is all you need to do, btw).

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 Because you don't live in Florida, but the 'illegal alien' does and Florida has made a political decision that "illegal aliens" who live in Florida should be afforded in-state tuition, while children of parents who don't live in Florida, but own property there (which may be rented to "illegal aliens" for all they know), shouldn't be afforded it.

Peachs
Peachs

@MiltonMan 

And there are kids, plenty of them in this state who settle for that and once they get to their life occupation at 18 they have spun their story except for illegitimate kids which we lead the country in, obesity which we lead the country in and health care which we don’t lead the country in. This is the conservative party in a nut shell, happy to keep it on cruise control.

NWGAL
NWGAL

@MiltonMan Native Americans migrated here as well. They just have been here longer. Do read some history.

Peachs
Peachs

@MiltonMan 

What conservative are afraid of is competition. They don’t like being challenged they like things status quo. Something better light a fire under this state.I wonder if you can impeach a state for not contributing?

BuckheadBoy
BuckheadBoy

@DS It makes perfect sense considering the source. With Republicans its all about "out-of-state" until it isn't. Its all about "merit" until it isn't. Its all about "personal responsibility" until it isn't. But, for them, its always all about "me".

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@DS No, the problem for Marco is that he doesn't fit the Board of Regents' definition of a resident as someone who is here "legally."  The crux of the lawsuit was whether that was accomplished through DECA. I believe that the judge ruled that DECA should only be applied narrowly to migrants being able to work here legally, and nothing else such as education.

GB101
GB101

@NWGAL We are not all immigrants.  Maybe you don't know what "immigrant" means.  You may wish to consult a dictionary.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@NWGAL

Marco no doubt has a vast, extended family back in Mexico—the one his mother's taken him back to visit at least once, according to the story. That family and his native country would benefit from his return—as would the Americans he competes with for scarce jobs, and college seats, here.

But jobless Americans don't get your sympathy, do they?

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@EdUktr   I wish that EdUktr's ancestors had been denied entry to the U.S. whenever they showed up in Ellis Island.  Or maybe they were smuggled into the country from Canada?  There were lots of people in early America who did not like foreigners...............much like the Tea Party Republicans of today. 

AvailableName
AvailableName

@EdUktr As usual, you don't read.  The kid is legal under the Dream program.  You don't like it, but he is.  Why given that he is legal should he leave other than your animus?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

P. S.  Make that "DACA immigrants" and "DACA law."

td1234
td1234

@Baumer_1 It is a lot more than declaring a primary residence but your lack of knowledge on the subject is noted. 

td1234
td1234

@consumedconsumer @td1234 You missed the whole point. The point is I am not a legal resident of Florida, although I am a property owner, but the illegal alien (who is also not a legal resident of Florida)  is afforded more rights than a citizen of the US. 

AWA1
AWA1

@OriginalProf @DS DECA is the acronym for the DeKalb Early College Academy. It is not the acronym for the Dream Act.   Your statement is confusing because you'd mixed those two up.  The judge ruled that the DREAM ACT should only be applied .... not DECA. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EdUktr We don't know that he has "a vast, extended family back in Mexico," but only that he was returned once to Mexico and his mother found someone to slip him back here.  And he isn't competing for any American's "college seat," at least in Georgia, for the USG's rule is that illegal immigrants may be admitted to USG schools other than the top five...that's why he was at Georgia Perimeter, not one of the top five. Marco's problem is that he isn't allowed to pay in-state tuition.


Some states (about half) have allowed the DECA students to pay in-state tuition.  Georgia doesn't.  But immigration reform is shifting, so we don't know what's coming.


You seem to  have an exaggerated idea of the resources available to Marco.

BuckheadBoy
BuckheadBoy

@EdUktr I agree, jobless Americans in a state ranked at the bottom in unemployment and per capita income growth should have everyone's sympathy; with maybe a little left over for the migrant children murdered after being deported this year -- a half-dozen supposedly in Honduras alone.

NWGAL
NWGAL

@EdUktr Since I'm voting Democratic in the upcoming election, I clearly demonstrate sympathy for working Americans who need decent paying jobs and health care. And when I hire, I pay a living wage, even when it's above market value.

GB101
GB101

@The_Real_Centrist @EdUktr Do you favor restrictions on immigration?  Or do you believe that anyone from any country ought to be able to enter the United States and live here?

Bernie31
Bernie31

@The_Real_Centrist @EdUktr -  what you guys do not realize about Tiny Dog is this.

 If the Boy can do some Nails and FOOTS...about 500 a day. Tiny Dog would be willing to enter him into his Green Card gettin College fer Nail shops.

so he kin make a ARM and a Leg off of him til the end of time.


If yer ain't from here and yer can't do Nails and FOOTS...Tiny Dog is like the Yella

Teeth Governor.


Ya Gotta Go....Yesterday!


uh..huh.

GB101
GB101

@AvailableName That is one way to look at it.  Another way is that this illegal immigrant is still illegal but will suffer no consequences because the president has violated his oath of office and has decided not to enforce the law.

td1234
td1234

@AvailableName The "Dream program" is not the official law of the land. It is nothing more than an executive order signed by Obama. 

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 i caught your point. you apparently missed mine. someone made the political decision - in this instance the Gov who wants to be reelected - to sign a bill making a citizen of another country who resides in FL eligible for in-state tuition. They didn't make that decision for citizens of the US who don't reside in FL.


In this instance, I believe the answer to your why is because you don't live there - legally or illegally. 


You don't like that answer. I get it. But, I caught your point.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@AWA1 @OriginalProf @DS Really sorry here!  You are absolutely right--I got my acronyms mixed up.  I meant DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals otherwise known as the Dream Act. Thanks for the correction.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@OriginalProf @EdUktr 

You seem to think we owe him something which his native land doesn't—or that we should turn our backs on our own unemployed citizens (and legal immigrants).

And I wasn't aware Georgia Perimeter has no upward limitation on enrollment numbers (or that taxpayer funds aren't involved). 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@td1234 @AvailableName It certainly is the law! Presidential executive orders are law.  They haven't been passed by a legislative body but they're LAW, passed by an authority that has been legally sanctioned: the President.

AvailableName
AvailableName

Td, try violating an executive order and defend yourself by arguing that it wasn't a real law. Let me know how it works out.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EdUktr The USG rule is to exclude illegal immigrants admission to the 5 top-ranking USG schools that have had to turn away legal residents for admission within the last two years; and the Regents specified those schools. GPC wasn't one of them. It has long been an "open admissions" school.

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@EdUktr  Since when do you stick up for immigrants?  You've made it clear time and time again that you hate foreigners.  Are you pandering to the Hispanic vote, Uneducated Man?

GB101
GB101

@The_Real_Centrist @GB101 @EdUktr I do not agree.  They were and are here illegally.  And the president illegal suspended the law and violated his oath of office by not enforcing the law.

GB101
GB101

@AvailableName @GB101 Indeed.  Could you provide your legal analysis explaining why the president's actions in creating his "mini DREAM" act was legal?  While you are engaged in this, you may want to explain why the president was wrong when he said he did not have the legal authority to do what he did before he decided to do it.  

EdUktr
EdUktr

@The_Real_Centrist

In fact, one of the very few foreigners I hate is you, comrade.

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@EdUktr  Both I and my parents were born in this country, UnEdUkated Man.  Which foreign country were you born in, goober?