Schools are for Educating Kids, Not for Sheltering Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | July 2023
The Biden Administration’s reckless border and immigration policies have resulted in unprecedented numbers of illegal aliens entering our country, overwhelming the resources of countless communities nationwide. Self-declared sanctuary jurisdictions are compounding the impact of this crisis by turning public school facilities into shelters for largely unvetted adult migrants who flock to their communities. To address this problem, the House of Representatives just passed H.R. 3941, the Schools Not Shelters Act.
The House of Representatives passed the measure in response to actions taken by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to address the surging migrant crisis. Two weeks ago, Mayor Adams announced that the city is considering using 20 to 30 schools to house illegal aliens through the summer. Fox News reported that this extreme measure is being considered because every other shelter in the city is struggling to handle the number of aliens that have shown up at the sanctuary city’s doorstep. According to official data, the city has over 54,800 illegal aliens in its care. Over 90,000 illegal aliens have arrived in New York since spring 2022.
As a result, New Dorp High School, Mark Twain Middle School for the Gifted and Talented, and Russell Sage Middle School are being considered as options.
This is not the only time Mayor Adams has been criticized for housing aliens outside city shelters. Mayor Adams has housed migrants in various locations, such as taxpayer-funded hotel rooms, a former NYPD training facility, and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Rather than rescinding sanctuary city policies drawing migrants to the city in the first place, Mayor Adams has once again put the needs of illegal aliens ahead of New York citizens and school children by housing illegal aliens in public schools.
Similar housing challenges are happening in other parts of the country, too. As detailed in a recent FAIR report, taxpayers in Maine were outraged when Portland, a sanctuary city, began transferring 600 migrants to Unity Environmental University (UEU) in a neighboring city. Not only did Portland avoid having to care for the migrants, local officials asked Maine taxpayers to foot the $7.8 million bill. Most recently, on July 13, the Maine Public reported that UEU “had not yet ruled out housing asylum seekers on its campus, after a Unity town official earlier this week claimed the school was opposed to the proposal.”
Sanctuary cities are increasingly relying on non-sanctuary jurisdictions to step in for damage control when their policies backfire, unfairly shifting the fiscal burden of illegal aliens. In FAIR’s recent cost study, the total fiscal burden of illegal immigration on state taxpayers has now reached a staggering $151 billion annually, which is 30 percent more than it was in 2017. The primary reason for this, aside from a rapid increase in the illegal alien population, is that several states have opted to expand access to state welfare, education, and medical programs to illegal aliens. These expansions have led to taxpayers paying tens of billions in additional funding to cover these costs.
The House of Representatives took an important step toward protecting American taxpayers with the passage of H.R. 3941, the Schools Not Shelters Act. This bill prohibits public schools and institutions of higher education that receive federal funds from housing illegal aliens. It takes important steps toward ensuring that the safety and well-being of Americans are at the forefront of immigration policy.
As FAIR’s President Dan Stein said, “Parents whose kids attend these schools – many already failing to provide a first-class education – are rightly alarmed at the prospect of single adults being housed in these facilities and the inevitable deterioration of the buildings themselves. H.R. 3941 would ensure that America’s schools are used for educating American children, not as shelters for homeless migrants who are showing up in response to the Biden Administration’s open-borders policies.
Stein continued by saying, “Instead of burdening state and local governments, the Biden Administration should stop the flow of illegal immigration at the southern border and end the humanitarian crisis created by it. At the same time, cities and states that impose the burdens of illegal immigration on their citizens through sanctuary policies, face the prospect of losing federal education dollars.”
The House vote on H.R. 3941 was 222-201, with four Democrats joining Republican lawmakers. It is unlikely that the Senate, run by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), will allow a vote on the measure.