ABAC discusses migrant workers program - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ABAC discusses migrant workers program

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By Tayleigh Davis - bio | email

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - That State Board of Regents wants to weed out illegal immigrants who may be attending college in Georgia without paying their fair share.

The board recently ordered every school in the university system to conduct residency and citizenship checks on every student.

At Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, they welcome international students.

Esthela Lopez is one of several students in the rural studies program at ABAC. She also works with students in the High School Equivalency Program (HEP). She helps students from migrant worker backgrounds earn a high school diploma. She used to be in their shoes.

"I love helping people that were in the same situation that I was in," said Lopez.

President David Bridges says roughly 30 students from 11 countries study at ABAC. He says each student must show proof of a passport and visa.

"We've been carefully reviewing our processes and procedures to make sure we're doing that correctly," said Bridges.

Each documented student must pay the $4,000 out-of-sate tuition. Students are eligible to private scholarships. The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) is a federal grant that helped move Lopez through her first year. Kedirile Magakgala came here from South Africa on a tennis scholarship.

"I've learned a lot. People take care of each other. I've met so many families through teachers, friends, and sports and I've learned a lot of stuff," said Magakgala.

Most students come here legally, follow state department regulations and go back to their country. Lopez who moved from Mexico to Tifton with her family plans to stay and work at ABAC.

Although several universities in Georgia, including Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and the University of West Georgia have enrolled undocumented students. All students at ABAC are documented.

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