November 9, 2016 - Atlanta - Immigrant rights activists and faith leaders protested Georgia Board of Regents policies that bar immigrants without legal status from attending some of the state’s top schools and paying in-state tuition rates at its others. The protest was planned by Freedom University, a tuition-free school for immigrants without legal status. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Exclusive: 2 Ga. schools to consider immigrants without legal status

That will leave three top Georgia colleges and universities that do not admit such students under a controversial state rule: the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia College & State University. Called policy 4.1.6, the rule has prompted a series disruptive demonstrations and a federal lawsuit.

The Board of Regents announced the change in a prepared statement sent exclusively to the AJC this weekend, saying it is the result of a review officials began in connection with the court battle. Augusta and Georgia State universities are making the change under the policy based on their most recent admissions data, according to the board, “because they have admitted all academically qualified applicants through general admissions during the last two years.”

But the peaceful protests targeting that policy will not stop until it is repealed along with another rule – policy 4.3.4 — that bars immigrants without legal status from paying in-state tuition rates in Georgia, said Laura Emiko Soltis, executive director of Atlanta-based Freedom University, which provides tuition-free college preparation classes for immigrants affected by the state’s policies.

“This is a very, very small Band-Aid on what is the larger wound of educational segregation in the South,” Soltis said. “We will keep on fighting until both policies 4.1.6 and 4.3.4 are rightfully lifted and all young people who are academically qualified have equal access to education.”

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