These Dreamers currently contribute $1.3 billion in spending power to Georgia’s economy each year, and pay nearly $100 million in state and local taxes.
Allowing 15,000 Dreamers to enroll in Georgia colleges or universities and pay in-state tuition like their other high school peers would keep these talented men and women in our state and employed.
Dreamers graduating from technical college would pay back the state’s investment in less than 10 years, and individuals earning bachelor’s degrees would pay it back in less than 15 years, via better-paying jobs, higher tax contributions and higher earning power.
Studies have found that Latino non-citizens residing in states with in-state tuition policies are anywhere from 31 to 54 percent more likely to be enrolled in higher education than their peers in other states.
Research also shows that these policies impact high school completion as well, reducing dropout rates among certain immigrant students by as much as 14 percent.
Polling conducted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce confirmed that 76% of Georgia voters support providing access to in-state tuition to Georgia high school graduates who attend technical colleges and universities in rural Georgia to support a strong workforce pipeline.
And 75% of Georgia voters believe Georgia’s economic competitiveness depends on our state being viewed as a hub for the best talent in the country.
Some 74% of Georgia voters agree that increasing the number of individuals who are skilled and educated in our technical colleges and universities will benefit rural communities.
And 73% of Georgia voters believe allowing all Georgia high school graduates to access in-state tuition to Georgia colleges, including legal immigrants, will ensure our state attracts highly skilled workers, increasing our competitive advantage and ability to grow new jobs.
Simply put, talent – or education – is key. It is incumbent upon our state and federal leaders to consider strategic policy options that decrease the regulatory barriers, expand opportunity for legal immigrants and maximize the potential of our state to fully recover. Georgia’s next decade of economic growth depends on implementing creative, bold, and untraditional workforce solutions, now.
Immigration is an important part of our nation’s history and an essential part of our future. Voters, families, churches, and businesses all recognize its importance. Economic statistics demonstrate its value and the events of the past two years have called us all to a common ground where we can look to new and innovative ways to reform and re-envision a new Georgia economy, together.
Chris Clark is president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber. Verónica Maldonado-Torres is president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber.