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Immigration Responsible for Rise of Limited English Proficiency Students and Soaring Costs in Utah

New FAIR Report Reveals LEP Students Cost State $436 Million

(Washington, D.C. -- November 30, 2012) Rising immigration in Utah - caused by both the failure of the federal government to control the borders, and by the state's ambiguous policies toward illegal immigration - has produced a costly tab for public education. According to a new report issued by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), English Language Learners and Public Education in Utah, Utah is now spending $436 million annually to educate 53,219 Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, which represents more than 9 percent of the total population enrolled in the state's public schools.

Utah's foreign-born population, including illegal aliens, has increased from 3.5 percent of the state's total population in 1980 to 8.1 percent in 2010. The most rapid change has been the growth of illegal immigration in the state, which is responsible for producing a whopping 41 percent increase in the LEP population from 2000-2010. Utah now has the eighth fastest growing LEP population in the country.

"Parents of Utah school children should be alarmed at the costs, particularly the pace at which these costs are growing, and insist that their lawmakers do a little 'reading and 'rithmetic' on the issue," noted Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Excessive immigration is forcing the state to spend what little education dollars they do have in ways that are not necessarily in the best interests of Utah residents. The growth of the LEP population is not inevitable and would slow if the state had the sense to add an enforcement provision to its existing - but ineffective - anti-sanctuary law, and reverse its recent legislation (HB 116) which grants legal residency to certain illegal aliens residing in the state."

Among the findings of English Language Learners and Public Education in Utah is a detailed look at three school districts where half of Utah's LEP population is concentrated.

  • 23 percent of students in the Granite School District (15,921) were classified as LEP in 2010-2011, costing taxpayers $122.3 million.
  • 30 percent of students in the Salt Lake City School District (7,179) were classified as LEP in 2010-2011, costing taxpayers $72.6 million.
  • 25 percent of students in the Ogden School District (3,133) were classified as LEP in 2010-2011, costing taxpayers $28.4 million.

Media Contact: Kristen Williamson at 202-328-7004 or kwilliamson@fairus.org