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Undocumented youth are a part of our community
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Editor:
      Bulloch County is getting ready to graduate several undocumented youth who have spent their entire young lives among us. They are at the top of their class and all of them are graduating with Honors. Without the assistance of the community we will lose that talent and their promise. 
      Every year approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from US high schools. Of those students few will pursue college because they are either barred by law or because they must pay higher-out-of state tuition. Paying three times the in-state rate is impossible.
      Many youth are impoverished yet ineligible for financial aid or scholarships. Nor can these young people work to pay for college. We are marginalizing an entire generation of children. 
     Most undocumented youth qualified for college are those who came to the US as children. They have been raised in our communities and educated in our public schools. It makes no sense to lose our financial investment in them now.
     Last year alone, the state lost a $237 million investment on Georgians who did not complete their first year of college. We have invested money on students who haven’t taken college seriously or who simply were unprepared for its challenges.  In contrast, many undocumented youth are among the best and brightest of our high school graduates. They have worked hard, excelled, and they have done so under very difficult and often under unwelcoming circumstances. These are young people understand the value of an education.
      We believe that these youth are as much our children as anyone else’s. And, economically, it makes sense to invest in them.
      Georgia spends approximately $29,000 to incarcerate a person each year. A college-bound youth can be educated for a quarter of that expense and the country would be far richer for it.
     We know that the better educated a person is the more income they are likely to make.  More than ever the country needs high income earners particularly if Social Security recipients are to continue enjoying pension payments.  Chasing undocumented families from our state is short-sighted at best. 
      Undocumented workers account for $9.4 billion in revenues of our state’s $360 billion economy. They contribute between $215-253 million in the form of Georgia sales, income, and property taxes.  Fifty percent of workers in Georgia’s biggest industry, agriculture, are undocumented. If the children of farm workers do not have access to education then these families are likely to move where educational opportunities are available. What negative effect will this have on Georgia farmers and our economy? 
      We are also called to action by a conscience of faith. We are guided in our love and faith by the Gospel of Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me” and by Leviticus 19:33-34, which reminds us, “The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
      We believe that these children are worthy of our personal investment. We would like to invite you to make a contribution to their education by making a donation at Farmers and Merchants Bank, account #187-419-5.
      The account is being managed by the bank and all deposits will go directly to the educational expenses of these students. Checks can be written to the Student Scholarship Fund. Thank you for considering a contribution to help these very worthy youth.
Debra Sabia
Statesboro

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