Key Senate Panel Approves Bill Barring ‘Sanctuary Campuses’

An overflow crowd gathers to hear discussion about a bill that would penalize colleges that protect undocumented immigrants, during a meeting of the House Committee on Higher Education last month in Atlanta.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press
Audio version of this story here.

Hear the broadcast version of this story.

A bill that would bar Georgia’s private colleges from becoming sanctuary campuses passed a key Senate panel Monday.

Like us on Facebook

Sanctuary campuses are schools that adopt policies that protect undocumented immigrants. No Georgia colleges have such policies right now. Under a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, schools that adopt such policies in the future would lose state funding.

There was some confusion among members of the Senate higher education committee. Some questioned whether turning students’ information over to authorities conflicts with federal privacy laws.

Ehrhart denied that.

“You can’t make the case that a breaking of the law allows you a privacy shield,” he said. “That’s not a reasonable assumption. If you’re breaking the law, you lose those protections.”

Sen. Nan Orrock, a democrat and the only ‘no’ vote on the committee, doesn’t believe the bill is really about sanctuary campuses. She said it’s meant to send a message to immigrant communities.

“It’s fear mongering. It’s stirring the pot,” she said. “They call it ‘rattling the saber. I’m coming after you. I’m coming after you.’ It’s despicable.”

The bill now heads to the Rules committee. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon.