FAIR Study: Biden Immigration Policies Imposing Crushing Cost Burdens on American Schools
A report released by FAIR in September finds that one in ten students in our nation’s public schools are considered Limited English Proficient (LEP), requiring an annual expenditure of $78 billion to provide remedial English language instruction. Moreover, the surge of illegal migration instigated by Biden administration policies – including an unprecedented number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) – is outpacing the nation’s education system’s ability to hire enough teachers qualified to meet the needs of LEP kids.
Because of an approximately two year delay in releasing official enrollment and detailed cost data in most states and school districts, the figures in the FAIR report are accurate as of the 2020 school year, and do not include education costs incurred by the millions of illegal aliens who have entered the country since President Biden took office. Because of this, the true cost today is almost certainly at least several billion dollars more than the estimates detailed in this report.
The report, The Elephant in the Classroom: Mass Immigration Imposing Colossal Cost and Challenges on Public Education, finds that there are currently only 370,000 teachers qualified to deal with the educational needs of LEP students, and that an additional 76,000 instructors will be needed over the next five years just to keep pace with the consequences of the Biden administration’s open border policies. Worse yet – for the children themselves and the future of our nation – only about 4 percent of LEP students are proficient in math by the time they complete 12th grade, and only about 3 percent are English proficient by the time they complete high school.
Among the key findings of The Elephant in the Classroom report:
- 5.1 million students in American public schools were classified as LEP in 2020. That figure represents about 10 percent of all K-12 enrollment.
- The additional cost to American taxpayers to educate LEP students is $78 billion a year, an increase of $18.8 billion just since 2016. This estimate does not include additional costs, like free or subsidized meals that they may qualify for.
- All but 9 states now have more than 10,000 students designated as LEP, and 26 states have more than 50,000 LEP students. California and Texas now exceed 1 million LEP students.
- The large influx of new illegal LEP students under the Biden administration amounts to an unfunded federal mandate on state and local governments. As a result of a narrow 1982 Supreme Court decision, all K-12 students must be provided a taxpayer-funded public education, regardless of immigration status.
These findings are, or should be, a reminder to policymakers about why our immigration laws were enacted and why they must be enforced. Actions have consequences. And among the important consequences of unregulated immigration are enormous and unsustainable burdens heaped on the nation’s vital social institutions, like schools. In addition to the financial burdens imposed on taxpayers, it affects the quality of education received by American children and, as the report notes, the non-English proficient students themselves. In the long run, the costs of these failures are incalculable.