- May 4, 2017
- Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
- Melissa Johnson
One in five Georgia children lives with at least one immigrant parent and nearly half of immigrants in Georgia struggle to speak English. When parents struggle to speak English, it not only hurts their ability to bring home higher pay to support their families, it also limits their involvement in their children’s education. This reduces the likelihood their children will succeed in school and one day reach their potential in the workforce.
More than 509,000 Georgia children have immigrant parents and 45 percent of immigrants in Georgia don’t speak English well. Yet Georgia’s English language programs enrolled only about 12,000 adults in 2016. Georgia is also one of just two states that ban undocumented immigrants from basic literacy and other adult education programs. This ban hurts children, including U.S. citizens, by making English language education inaccessible for their parents.
It is in the best interest of the state for lawmakers to improve the educational opportunities for immigrants because Georgia is likely to continue to diversify and attract newcomers from many different countries. The country’s immigrant population is projected to increase at double the rate of the U.S.-born population over the next five years. Georgia’s workforce will likely add more immigrants as the state continues to capture a large share of the nation’s population growth. Putting up unusual roadblocks to literacy and training programs and underfunding English language education undermines Georgia’s future workforce and its ability to compete.