The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Activists blocked traffic on downtown Courtland Street for about an hour Tuesday afternoon as they demonstrated against a ban on illegal immigrants attending some Georgia colleges.
Police routed traffic off the road and onto Gilmer Street during the protest and then arrested at least seven of the activists. Authorities reopened Courtland just before 4 p.m.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, several of the activists declared they were illegally in the country and decried restrictions illegal immigrant students face in the United States.
Some spoke in favor of the DREAM Act, a congressional measure that would have given young illegal immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military. That measure failed in Congress last year.
More than a hundred college students, civil rights activists and others marched around the Georgia State University campus before several of them sat in the middle of Courtland and unfurled a large red and white banner that declared: “We will no longer remain in the shadows.”
Effective next fall, illegal immigrants will be barred from the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia College & State University and the Medical College of Georgia since these campuses have rejected academically qualified applicants for the past two academic years because of space or for other reasons.
Some of the activists delivered a letter to Georgia State University President Mark Becker asking him to refuse to participate in that ban. A university spokeswoman said GSU is following state Board of Regents policies.
John Millsaps, a spokesman for the state Board of Regents, said the board adopted the ban to address concerns that academically qualified Georgia residents would be blocked from attending state colleges because of illegal immigrant students. Millsaps pointed out that 30 other state colleges and universities are not covered by the ban.
“It is not as though students are barred totally from attendance,” he said. “The point was to maintain some options within the framework of the law.”
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he was looking into whether the activists who were arrested Tuesday will face deportation.