FB immigrant laws show no effect on city's schools

By KATHERINE LEAL UNMUTH / The Dallas Morning News

The ordinances targeting illegal immigrants living in Farmers Branch don't appear to have had an impact on enrollment in the city's public schools.

A federal judge stopped the city from enforcing one controversial measure, but many had speculated immigrants would feel unwelcome and leave.

Figures from the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district show overall enrollment up slightly and virtually no change in the number of children from Farmers Branch. Most students in Farmers Branch schools are Hispanic and low-income, and many are learning English as a second language.

School board member James Goode, who lives in Farmers Branch, said he has heard stories of people leaving the city but not in large numbers.

"There was no mass exodus from Farmers Branch," he said. "As of right now, I think Tim O'Hare was incorrect, if his understanding was it would change."

Mr. O'Hare, the City Council member who spearheaded the measures making English the city's official language and prohibiting most illegal immigrants from renting apartments, pointed out that the enrollment numbers show that new immigrants aren't moving in or other groups are returning to the schools.

"It certainly appears that our efforts have stopped the tide, and we will continue to pursue measures to deal with those who are still here," he said.

School districts don't ask children's immigration status or track how many might be illegal. Federal law requires public schools to educate all children, regardless of their status.

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