By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Illegal immigrants would be barred from attending Georgia public colleges and universities under a bill that passed the Georgia Senate on Monday with Republican support.
The bill which passed by a vote of 34 to 19, is the latest backlash against undocumented students by politicians arguing that they are a burden on taxpayer-funded education, even when they pay out-of-state rates.
"It's about protecting taxpayer monies, not scaring people off," said the bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Barry Loudermilk. "Even when illegal immigrants pay out-of-state tuition, that does not fully cover the cost of a higher education," he added.
Last year, Georgia joined other states including Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah that have all passed "omnibus" immigration crackdowns, since Arizona blazed the trail in 2010.
Opponents of the latest legislation said it was unnecessary since the state university system already has a policy barring illegal immigrants from attending its five most competitive universities, including the University of Georgia.
Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials added that illegal immigrants who attend the state's other colleges pay out-of-state tuition.
"Immigrant youth are not taking seats away from anyone and these students are paying more than their fair share for their education," he said.
The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
(Editing By David Adams and Tim Gaynor)