Georgia Senate passes bill to punish “sanctuary” colleges

The Senate Tuesday approved a bill that would cut funding for Georgia colleges that declare themselves "sanctuaries" for students living in the country illegally.

House Bill 37 would restrict funds for colleges that violate state and federal law by adopting polices that protect students who are living in the U.S. illegally. HOPE grants could be taken away from students under the bill.

The bill comes as President Donald Trump has pledged to crack down on illegal immigration and threatened to withhold federal funding from "sanctuary cities" across the country. It also comes as students and faculty from more than 100 universities have called on their administrators to declare themselves sanctuaries.

No Georgia colleges have the kind of policies that would prompt punishment under HB 37. But supporters say it will encourage schools to follow the law.

“It is vitally important to make clear that this state will not subsidize institutions that flout federal law,” said Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus.

Opponents said the bill seems to be intended to send a message that immigrants aren’t welcome in Georgia.

“We want to stir up and foment just as much hostility (to immigrants) as we can,” said Sen. Nan Orrock,-D-Atlanta.

The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 37 to 16. It now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal, who must decide whether to sign it.