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  1. #1
    Senior Member ShockedinCalifornia's Avatar
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    Nov 2006

    NY Suffolk Co. Immigration Cost: Suffering School Districts ... 6365&rfi=6

    Illegal Immigration: The Cost For School Districts

    By:Michelle Pirraglia February 21, 2007

    With local school districts getting ready to unveil their proposed budgets for the 2007-2008 academic year, some are expressing worry over an issue that they believe is causing school taxes to rise - illegal immigration.

    "The truth of the matter is it's very costly, and we get no help from the state or federal government," said Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael Mostow. "We're not allowed to consider whether a child is here legally or not. We're obligated to educate them, it doesn't matter what their status is, that's the law."

    According to a 1982 US Supreme Court ruling, school districts are "prohibited" from "barring access to a student on the basis of legal status or alleged legal status." However, the costs that come along with educating those children has been the subject of debate recently, with residents and school officials searching for answers.

    A 2006 study done by the Federation for American Immigration Reform - a non-profit organization that is pushing for immigration reform on a national level - showed that illegal immigrants have been costing New York State school district taxpayers a total of "at least $1.5 billion per year." However, that number increases when US-born children of illegal immigrants are taken into account. Those children carry an additional expense of $2.8 billion annually, according to the report, and bring the overall figure up to $4.3 billion.

    "The states are really feeling the effects of the federal government's negligence to control the borders," said Bob Dane, press secretary for FAIR. "It's fundamentally unfair for children of legal residents to suffer lower quality in the classrooms because of parents [who have come here illegally and] who've had children here."

    In response to these concerns, NYS Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Wading River) is requesting school districts in his area to provide his office with the number of illegal immigrants they believe they are educating. "I'm going to need a detailed list of who they feel is undocumented and the unfunded mandates associated with them," Alessi said. "Nobody's been able to back it up with any factual data. For me to be an effectual legislator, I have to have all the facts."

    However, this might be a difficult task, as the 1982 Supreme Court ruling bars school districts from "treating students disparately for residency determination purposes on the basis of their undocumented status; inquiring about a student's immigration status, including requiring documentation of a student's legal status at initial registration or at any other time; [and] making inquiries from a student or his/her parents which may expose their legal status."

    "On the one hand, they know there's illegal activity going on and, on the other, they're bound by confidentiality," explained New York State Assemblywoman Pat Eddington (WF-Medford). "It's a horrible problem that has been thrown in our faces and placed in our laps by the federal government."

    School administrators concurred. "We're not allowed to release that kind of information," said Mostow, adding that he is now requesting the landlord's signature as part of the enrollment process. "We're hoping that initiative will stop multiple families from living in one home."

    Sachem School District Superintendent Charles Murphy said school officials can "get a feel" for which students are here legally and which are not, as students do have to prove they live within the district itself. Some of the ways parents must verify that their children reside within the school district's boundaries, according to Murphy, include providing rent receipts, a mortgage or lease agreement, utility bills or an affidavit from the landlord. "If they have a mortgage, you know they're fairly established, but if they're going back and trying to get an affidavit, they could be illegal - but we're not allowed to ask," he said.

    But state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Selden) believes those who are attending school districts in this country should be required to show proof that they are here legally. "This is an issue where people try to be politically correct and pussyfoot around the issue," he said. "People use things such as privacy or confidentiality, but the time has come, particularly on the federal level, to do something about this ... It puts the school districts in a hell of a bind, but if a person was doing something illegal, wouldn't the school district report that individual? I think we have a responsibility to provide those names to the federal government."

    The Sachem School District includes Farmingville, an area that officials note has had its share of issues with illegal immigrants in the past. However, Murphy said his school district does not have a large illegal alien population. "Some people would perceive [the] Sachem [School District] to have a large [illegal immigrant] population based on the migrant worker issue," he said, "but these people are mostly single men whose families are elsewhere in the world."
    However, Mostow said the Patchogue-Medford School District is feeling the impact of illegal aliens coming into the system. Stating that his district's population of 8,700 students includes approximately 1,800 immigrants "at varying levels," Mostow said this number has jumped markedly over the past five years. "We went from 4% to 20%," he said, noting that, due to federal law, he does not know for sure how many of these students are illegal aliens.

    In terms of the price tag these numbers carry, Mostow said that for the 2007-2008 budget, the school district will have to add five new English as a Second Language teachers - jumping the number of ESL educators from 16 to 21 - as well as two bilingual teachers, to the roster. "Just for salaries and fringe benefits, that's going to cost us [a total of] $1,768,000 [for all the ESL and bilingual teachers]," Mostow said. "That alone is almost a 2% increase in the budget."
    With state officials pointing the finger at the federal government, US Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Coram) said he is "optimistic" that a bill he is sponsoring will help address this issue. "I'm hoping we'll be moving on immigration reform some time this spring," he said. Noting that the legislation being drafted now would include a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants already here, Bishop added that the bill also would mandate "the payment of back taxes" and a "substantial fine." This money, he said, would then be distributed to local governments, which would, in turn, be obligated to pass the funding on to the entities that are affected by this issue - including school districts.

    Some believe challenging the 1982 US Supreme Court ruling is the solution. "The first thing school districts should be allowed to do is find out exactly how many students are here illegally, and then find out how much that is costing taxpayers," said Medford resident Arthur Francis. "Once we know what kind of dollar figure we're looking at, then we can say to ourselves, 'Is it worth going to the Supreme Court?' If it's costing us a lot of money, and we have to go all the way to the Supreme Court, we should. Those coming here illegally shouldn't be a burden on taxpaying citizens to the extent where they are hurting our quality of life."

    "It's established federal law," Bishop responded. "Certainly someone has the right to challenge that law, but I would not support a challenge to it ... If the alternative is to round up these people and send them back, that's never going to happen. In my opinion, this legislation [in Congress] is the only realistic alternative."

    Another concern school districts raised were federal mandates - particularly the No Child Left Behind Act, which has a number of requirements that school administrators say are becoming harder to attain. "After one year in the country, [ESL] students have to take an English language test, which brings [the school district's overall] scores down," Mostow said. "If you pull that population out, we're doing very well."

    "The No Child Left Behind Act doesn't provide any kind of funds for school districts, so the burden is on the taxpayers," Eddington said. "School districts are being blamed for the failure of students because they don't speak English well, but where is the federal government?"

    Acknowledging that the federal government has "fallen far short" of the "promises" it made in the No Child Left Behind Act, Bishop said, "We're going to reauthorize the law this year. One of the things we have to look at is whether [some of the requirements are] reasonable or not."

    When asked whether school districts should be mandated to ask for proof of citizenship when a student is enrolled, and be allowed to pass that information along to the proper authorities, some officials said that would be placing an unfair burden on the educational system. "Our teachers and our school districts are not the immigration police," Eddington commented.

    "I think the responsibility lies with the federal government," said NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele (R-Bridgehampton). "This is just another responsibility school districts have to confront ... and it becomes a major cost."

    Thiele said using local laws, such as housing codes, to fight illegal immigration are "more symbolic statements than effective policy. That doesn't address the underlying problem, which is the inability or unwillingness of the federal government to secure our borders."
    Frustrated with some of the provisions in federal law that preclude school districts from reporting on illegal immigration, LaValle said the federal government should take another look at its laws. "In every other aspect where the word 'illegal' is used, there are consequences, but there seems to be none here," he said. "I think we're going to have to revisit all this, because it just doesn't make any sense."

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Jan 1970
    Getting awful close to CHAPPEQUA and that Klinton pitstop.

    Wonder what the Hildebeast is going to do for her 'neighbors' in Suffolk?
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    Senior Member SOSADFORUS's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    "I think the responsibility lies with the federal government,"
    I think this problem is so huge now that it has to fall on all levels of government, just one alone is not going to be able to fix it!
    Please support ALIPAC's fight to save American Jobs & Lives from illegal immigration by joining our free Activists E-Mail Alerts (CLICK HERE)

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