Virginia House Of Delegates, Hearing Of The Subcommittee On/For Courts Of Justice
Statement By John Martin
Special Project Director
Federation For American Immigration Reform
The Fiscal Imapcts Of Illegal Immigration On Virginians
Mr. Chairman and subcommittee members,
I am Jack Martin, Special Projects Director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national non-profit, non-partisan membership organization that has been working to promote immigration policies in the national interest for more than 30 years.
A study of the fiscal costs of illegal immigration that we published last July identified outlays of $1.9 billion in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Of that amount, a large majority of the cost resulted from the burden of educating the children of illegal aliens in public school: $883 million for 79,000 K-12 students plus an additional $402 million for 63,900 students in Limited English Proficiency instruction.
The educational expenditures, therefore, represent about 2/3 of the total expenditures: 46% for the K-12 students and 21% for the LEP students.
Those estimates include the children of illegal aliens who are themselves illegally in the country and those born here and considered to be US citizens. We include the latter children in our cost estimate because their presence is a result of the illegal presence of the parents and, therefore, an aspect of the fiscal cost burden resulting from illegal immigration. Our estimates are based on a majority of those students being U.S.-born. However, the educational costs of the illegal alien students alone are large. In our estimate, they amount to $370 million ($240 million K-12 and $130 million LEP).
It is important to note that at present there is no alternative to making assumptions and estimates — as we did in our study — because hard data are not available. Most school districts do not collect information that would lead to an accurate count of illegal alien students. It is not true, however, that public schools are prohibited from collecting such data.
To demonstrate that fact let me quote to you from a New York Times article last July.
“Three decades after the Supreme Court ruled that immigration violations cannot be used as a basis to deny children equal access to a public school education, one in five school districts in New York State is routinely requiring a child’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants can provide.”
Furthermore, Congress in 1996 mandated that public schools must avoid admitting foreign-born students except on a limited basis in order to avoid an unauthorized burden on the taxpayer. The Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act, in Section 625, provides that foreign students may not attend public school for more than one year and at no cost to the taxpayer. Implicit is that requirement is that administrators must determine the immigration status of foreign-born students.
Finally, I would emphasize that in supporting data collection on enrollment of illegal alien children in public school we are not advocating the denial of their entry into the schools. That would be counter to the Plyler decision. But collecting accurate information on the presence of such students is an important objective to informing state policymakers about the need to take measures to discourage the settlement of illegal aliens in the state. It is also essential step to making a case to federal policymakers of the burden placed on state and local taxpayers in an effort to demand action at the federal level to combat illegal immigration.
- “No Visa, No School, Many New York Districts Say,” New York Times, July 22, 2010, [The reference to the Supreme Court decision is the Plyler v. Doe decision in 1982.]
- 8 U.S.C. 1184 (m).