It is a sad day when a high school student is denied an opportunity to pursue his sports passion and a solid university education because of an arbitrary and capricious policy. Chester Brown is a highly recruited football player in the State of Georgia. He is also the son of Samoan immigrants. Chester committed to the University of Georgia back in July, 2011. Yesterday, Chester reluctantly announced he will not be attending as the result of a controversial immigration policy at the university. The Georgia Board of Regents Policy states that an undocumented student cannot be admitted to the school over a legal resident should there be a space limitation.
Chester would not say whether the policy forced him to make the decision, but the Atlanta Journal Constitution, cited multiple sources, indicated it was. Chester said simply it was his decision – and a painful one at that. “It was my decision to make, and I had to do it,” said Chester. “When I told the coaches they just were surprised, but they told to me do what I have to do. I don’t want anyone to think that we went out on bad terms, and I love UGA, but I had to make this decision.” Chester’s status is unclear. His parents, who immigrated to the country decades ago, said he was born in the United States. But he apparently does not have the proper documentation.
The Board of Regents rule came about following an incident involving Jessica Colotl, a Kennesaw State student who sparked a national immigration debate after she was found to be in the country illegally following a traffic stop in May of 2010. She was attending the school and paying in-state tuition at the time. Colotl was jailed and nearly deported back to Mexico but was eventually allowed to return to school; she graduated last spring.
After the incident, the Georgia Board of Regents issued the following policy:
“A person who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible for admission to any University System institution which, for the two most recent academic years, did not admit all academically qualified applicants (except for cases in which applicants were rejected for non-academic reasons).”
Chester’s family and the school will continue to work in hopes of allowing him to take the Georgia scholarship offer, according to the AJC story. In the meantime, Chester will re-open his recruitment. While Chester’s story does not have an unhappy ending, it does reflect how some states are taking a harder stance against any undocumented individuals. Rather than work with him to see if Chester is a U.S. Citizen, the Georgia Board of Regents Policy unilaterally makes a decision that has a serious impact on the future of individuals caught up in this policy. It is policies like these that made the DREAM Act such an important piece of legislation because even if Chester was brought here illegally, he could still have a chance to pursue his passion of football at a university and get a solid education. Let us hope that Chester’s situation works out for the best.