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

Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, on the House floor. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, on the House floor. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

A powerful Republican lawmaker aims to cut off state funding to Emory University and any other higher education institution that declares it will defy President-elect Donald Trump if he tries to deport immigrants who are illegally in the U.S.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart plans to introduce legislation to block colleges from receiving state funds if they aren’t complying with state and federal law in response to the report last week that Emory was weighing whether to declare the school a “sanctuary campus.”

“Private institutions can do what they want, but there are consequences to actions. And it can’t be an option to choose not to follow state and federal laws,” said Ehrhart of Powder Springs, who is chairman of the House’s higher education financing subcommittee.

“There’s a raft of state taxpayer dollars for private institutions,” he said, “and I’m very sanguine about being able to pass a piece of legislation that says if you’re picking and choosing which laws you’re going to follow, state dollars aren’t going to follow.”

Emory University President Claire Sterk wrote in a letter to students last week that administrators are reviewing their request “for a sanctuary campus and ways to protect all members of the Emory community” and said the school would continue to support students, known as “Dreamers,” who were granted a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation by an executive order from President Barack Obama.

Atlanta protestors demonstrated this month against Georgia Board of Regents policies that bar immigrants without legal status from attending five of the state’s top schools and paying in-state tuition rates at its others. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Atlanta protestors demonstrated against policies that bar immigrants without legal status from attending five of the state’s top schools and paying in-state tuition rates at its others. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

“Emory always has been and will continue to be committed to the principles of academic freedom in a community that affirms everyone’s rights to speak, learn, and grow,” the letter read. “While doing so, we will not tolerate bullying, intimidation, or discrimination on any level. Instead, we expect empathy, mutual respect, and courteousness.”

The school said in a statement Tuesday that it “follows all federal laws and policies and will continue to do so.” It added that it uses “private, non-governmental resources” to offer scholarships to undocumented students protected by Obama’s order.

“We believe there is much we can do at Emory by working together and in partnership with other organizations and our elected officials to help all of our community members flourish,” the statement read.

Students and faculty from more than 100 universities have called on their administrators to declare themselves sanctuaries after Trump’s election. The president-elect has vowed to deport the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally, though he’s said he’ll first focus on those with criminal records.

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.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday stopped short of declaring Atlanta a “sanctuary city,” though he said in a statement that it would be a welcoming one for immigrants and other newcomers.

“Atlanta will not tolerate acts of hatred against our residents and visitors. We will prosecute crimes of this nature to the fullest extent of the law. If you are the victim of a hate crime or intimidation, I urge you to call 911 and report it,” he said. “It is the sworn duty of Atlanta Police officers to protect and serve our people regardless of their country of origin, the religion they practice, or the language they speak.”

If Emory declares itself a “sanctuary campus” and Ehrhart’s plan is adopted, tens of millions of state dollars could be at stake. But as the AJC budget guru James Salzer points out, the fiscal impact would depend on how far Ehrhart goes on his ban of state funding.

State agencies and the University System of Georgia paid Emory facilities $96 million in 2015 for various services, but the biggest part – about $84 million – was spent by the Department of Community Health, which administers the Medicaid program for the poor, disabled and elderly.

In addition, Emory students are eligible for the HOPE scholarship and Tuition Equalization Grants to help them pay for schooling. The two programs provide about $69 million in tuition assistance to students attending private schools in Georgia, with millions of dollars going to Emory students. Emory students are eligible to receive up to $2,174 per semester if they earn the top HOPE scholarship.  And all students get an additional $450 per semester as part of the TEG program, which gives a publicly funded grant to every private college student.

Ehrhart, the longest-serving Republican in the state House, has long been a foil to powerful college presidents. He clashed with Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson last year over his school’s handling of the sexual complaint process. And he urged Kennesaw State University’s leaders to remove an art exhibit on the AIDS epidemic that he called an “insult for the sake of making a political statement.”

 

Reader Comments 0

179 comments
Burt Baker
Burt Baker

Wow. Kinda what King George said to the colonies... right before the revolutionary war! Underground Railroad.....?

Robert Duray
Robert Duray

Republican way threaten and bully, we got to have some compassion in our country. I served three in the military I think that is what makes our country great and together with respect for all.

Erik Moore
Erik Moore

Their bitterness knows no ends. Straight retribution through 2020 for electing a black president - the nerve of us.......

Karen Daly
Karen Daly

These people ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS but what they truely are: "ILLEGAL ALIENS."

Patricia Ackland
Patricia Ackland

Good for taking away the money.to come to the U.S. You come legally.

Terry Sciple
Terry Sciple

NO, why just because someone has a different opinion than yourself? Helping others should be applauded, not judged or scrutinized by you or anyone else. We cannot stand over people like that all the time. Anytime.

Terry Sciple
Terry Sciple

By the way, blind justice does not exist. It is no longer justice. I know you voted for Trump, but don't you think it is time to get real.

D Evonne Moss
D Evonne Moss

These people have broken the law. That makes them criminals. Criminals should not be protected, they should be turned over to law enforcement.

Terry Sciple
Terry Sciple

Point is they don't deserve Donald Trump, just because that what he thinks, and he alone. You weren't doing anything until he started screaming. And, he only screams what suits him period. He is a dictator and no one will stand by him.

Dwayne May
Dwayne May

Good why should we the taxpayers pay for this

Steve Downs
Steve Downs

That's the way it should be. There should be consequences for breaking/ignoring the law.

Alice White
Alice White

State money thay went to Emory was in the form of Medicaid payment and HOPE scholarship money. So how are they going to cut funding to Emory? Are they going to cut money to the hospital aspect? Refuse to educate Georgia residents? I am confused here. Is thay not cutting off your nose to spite your face?

Pat Lawhorn
Pat Lawhorn

Yes Georgia do give any college that declare sanctuary campus!!!

Kim Nixon Perschka
Kim Nixon Perschka

If these colleges declare themselves sanctuary campuses then they are aiding and abetting criminals and that is against the law as well.

Kim Nixon Perschka
Kim Nixon Perschka

They came here knowing they were illegal. Many have been here long enough to apply for citizenship but have not. They want to keep taking from the USA and it's time for it to stop. Deportation!

Brandon Paxton
Brandon Paxton

Selfish, hypocritical bigots. We will NOT tolerate such ignorant intolerance! GET IT EMORY! #ATLPRIDE

Bob Mills
Bob Mills

Good as if they want to be liberals let them pay for it.

Susan Lattimer York
Susan Lattimer York

If you don't follow the laws you should not get state or federally money

Sue Burnam
Sue Burnam

i hope it passes. - time for PC to go out the window. - hope emory powers that be have enough gumption to stand up to the students and BS that is going around. - we DO NOT need sanctuary status in this state. - they are illegal - get them out of here.

Larry Walker
Larry Walker

Laws are not optional. They were made to enforce.

Darla Bobby Dowdell
Darla Bobby Dowdell

Ham getting sick and tired of people so worried about protecting immigrants. Me and my wife don't even have a job and fixing to loose the little we have left, no one cares about us. We can't even get temporary help anywhere. They cross the border and get healthcare, food stamps, jobs, and a home to live in.

Erin Sandlin
Erin Sandlin

I know that you believe undocumented immigrants receive those things. It isn't true. I promise you that. Whoever told you that was lying to you, exploiting your emotional vulnerability during an extremely stressful time. I want to assure you that you are not forgotten, and there are people in your corner. Would you like some resources? I know from experience how frustrating the assistance applications are. But I don't want to repeat info or options you've already explored.

David Vincent Gagric
David Vincent Gagric

START SLAMMING THESE SCHOOL FOR BREAKING IMMIGRATION LAWS.... STUPIDITY AT WORK HERE....THEY ARE ILLEGAL....WHAT DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND....ILLEGAL! !!!!

Annie Cook
Annie Cook

My there are so many non Christ like people commenting on this thread as we celebrate a brown person being born in a stable because there was no room for him at the inn.

Enryke Tres
Enryke Tres

All immigrants are welcome after all we all are immigrants in AMERICA.

Jacqueline Simmons
Jacqueline Simmons

Good ...I hope all that think they can ignore our laws find themselves with all kinds of problems !

Phillip Payne
Phillip Payne

If they are a sanctuary college the they should lose all funding.

Jerry H Holloway
Jerry H Holloway

Who cares let them keep on they will put themselves out of work and yes we shouldn't be paying for illeagles

Jeri Laird
Jeri Laird

If you break federal laws.. then no federal funds.

J. Dewayne Colquitt
J. Dewayne Colquitt

Hmmm. So how much money does Emory get from the State? ....it's a private university....with massive endowments..... and, would such a move jeopardize plans for mass transit on the Emory Corridor ...or Emory's desire to annex into the City mix of Atlanta?....implications for tax base?

Carolyn Broadbelt
Carolyn Broadbelt

Please register to vote so you will be ready for the next election.

Garry Hyrne
Garry Hyrne

Good. Low standard education anyway.

Roger Smith
Roger Smith

I thought America was the great melting pot? The American people have become lazy and wasteful. Washington politicians are clowns in high dollar suits....who is supposed to monitor and regulate immigration? Wake up!

Aggie Joseph
Aggie Joseph

Good they need to lose state funding. I'm sick of this crap!

Jean Allen
Jean Allen

AND GET RID OF THE MAN WHO WANTS TO DO IT.I AGREE CUT OFF THE FUNDING.