- Educating illegal immigrants in public schools costs
states at least $7.4 billion annually, according to a study by the Federation
for American Immigration Reform that argues American children are being
hurt by the drain on resources.
- "Illegal immigration is no free lunch," said
Dan Stein, executive director of FAIR. "It's about shifting burdens
ó lowering labor costs at a tremendous cost not only to American
taxpayers but to American kids."
- California spends an estimated $2.2 billion annually
ó more than any other state ó to educate illegal immigrant
children. Texas and New York rank second and third, respectively.
- The report's authors used the Urban Institute's estimate
of 1.1 million illegal immigrant schoolchildren in the United States, then
broke that down by state using the Census Bureau's estimate for illegal
immigrants per state.
- The costs are based on per-pupil averages and don't account
for extra costs of providing English as a second language classes, nor
do they account for disparities of per-pupil costs in different counties
in a state.
- Mr. Stein said the money used to pay for illegal immigrants'
education should be used to meet the needs of children here legally, and
the report detailed how individual states could use the money to offset
current budget shortfalls.
- Melissa Lazarin, education policy analyst at the National
Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanic-Americans, said FAIR's
estimate for illegal immigrant children is "really a very small slice"
of the overall cost of education, which the Department of Education figures
is more than $700 billion annually.
- "We just don't feel this is something we should
be quibbling over," she said. "We actually feel it behooves us
to invest in the education of these children because we feel we have a
much better return on this small investment.
- "These are students that grew up in this country,
that consider themselves American, that speak English, that have the persistence
to go on to college, that want to give back to their communities,"
- Jim Ferg-Cadima, legislative staff lawyer at the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the issue of immigrants'
rights to education has been settled.
- "Regardless of what the dollar figure is, these
children have a right to an education," he said. "The issue was
litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court decided
on the issue."
- In the 1982 decision, Plyler v. Doe, the court said the
Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment means that if schools offer
public education to any student they must offer it to all students. The
court also ruled that students have no control over their immigration status
and can't be punished for their parents' decisions to move illegally.
- Mr. Stein said he believes the 5-4 decision was wrong,
but beyond that it is being misinterpreted by many schools to justify shielding
families of illegal immigrant students from detection.
- The solution, he said, is for the federal government
to enforce immigration laws.
- Several states have sued the federal government to try
to force it to pay for costs associated with illegal aliens, including
education and incarceration. They argued that the federal government is
responsible for failed border enforcement and immigration policies.
- In 1999, the president of the school board in Anaheim,
Calif., proposed sending a bill to Mexico for illegal immigrants who attended
schools in the jurisdiction.
- Hispanic activists and other opponents called the move
political grandstanding and accused the school board president of racism.
They filed dozens of lawsuits against him for violation of children's civil
rights and misuse of tax dollars. The board did not pursue the policy after
being told it violated international conventions.
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