'They Took Me In for Who I Was'

December 10, 2012

Photo: Rich Addicks for The Chronicle

Above: “I believe a quality education is a birthright. It doesn’t really matter where you come from,” says Martín López, a student at Freedom University and one of the estimated 1.4-million immigrants under age 30 who lack legal status. “It shouldn’t be a privilege.”

Martín López was born in Mexico and came to the United States as a young child. He grew up in a quiet neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Atlanta, graduated from high school there, and for a time took classes at a local college before the cost grew too burdensome.

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This year, while working as a day laborer during the week, Mr. López, 21, began attending weekend classes at Freedom University. Professors at the University of Georgia created the program last year to offer college-level courses to undocumented immigrants in Georgia, who are barred from enrolling at certain public universities—including UGa—and required to pay out-of-state tuition at others.

Related Story: In a Secret Classroom in Georgia, Immigrants Learn to Hope