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Utah Asks Feds to Pay For Educating Undocumented Children

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First, Utah lawmakers conducted an audit of how much it costs the state to educate undocumented children in K-12 public schools. Now they're using that audit to ask the federal government to cover the cost, which was between $54.9 million and $85.4 million in 2006, as reported by an Associated Press reporter and published in the Salt Lake Tribune and other newspapers last week.

Last year, New Mexico Voices for Children estimated in a report that state and local governments in New Mexico spent between $49 million and $67 million in educating undocumented children each year. While the Utah audit did not take into consideration the financial contributions of illegal immigrants to the state, the study by the New Mexico Voices for Children did. The New Mexico study found that undocumented immigrants cover the K-12 education cost for undocumented children in the taxes they pay each year.

I'm not aware of any report that provides reliable figures nationwide about this issue. The U.S. Government Accountability Office--then called the General Accounting Office--published a report in June 2004, "Illegal Alien Schoolchildren: Issues in Estimating State-by-State Costs," that concluded government information was "not sufficient to directly estimate the state-by-state costs of educating illegal alien schoolchildren."

(Personally, I wish the government would stop using that word "aliens" to refer to undocumented people. It makes me think lawmakers who started using that word must have watched too many movies about visitors from outer space.)

It seems that coming up with some solid figures nationally for both the costs of educating undocumented children and the financial contributions of undocumented immigrants would make a good research project for someone.

10 Comments

The 14th amendment never meant to give children of illegal invaders citizenship in the USA.

Illegals do not pay taxes. If they do steal American citizens identities and pay taxes on them, then they claim 10-14 dependents.

United States Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe guarantees access to public schools by all children residing in the United States. Schools are prohibited from collecting or requiring any information that identifies the immigration status of any child in public school. Given that, statistics that show impact can only be creatively or imaginatively developed, not based upon facts and data but rather opinion and inference.

We are a country of laws and we cannot pick and choose which ones we wish to follow. Courts are not likely to be able to force funding, but this is an interesting case to follow.

While billions of dollars are diverted to Iraq, gasoline prices going up, and as a result affecting prices in all other sectors, it's easy to use immigrants as a scapegoat as times are increasingly tough.

Let's think carefully before blaming children for our social problems. A society based on democracy and freedom can only benefit from making education a right for every member of our up and coming generations -- and can only create indelible harm by excluding entire groups of children from the opportunity for full participation in society.

If we want to cut our tax dollars, let's start by reforming our unfair trade practices that force families in poor nations to choose between feeding their children and remaining in their homelands. If we think cutting services to immigrants will lower our taxes, then it would only be fair to pay a decent price for our t-shirts, bluejeans and lettuce so those families can make a decent living and remain in their homelands. Perhaps then they would not have to endure the horrible prejudice they encounter here from people who think punishing children will solve this problem.

Lilathe,
Do you think that when undocumented immigrants make purchases at the local store or fill their tanks with gas that they get a break on all the local and federal taxes that citizens pay? Do you think they don't ever pay for phone services (which are heavily taxed)? They don't get electricity bills? Or use any other taxed services? Our report didn't even look at income tax contributions, but found that undocumented immigrants pay enough in sales taxes and property taxes (which are added into the cost of rent) alone to pay for their children's education.
Social Security, on the other hand, has reported that billions are paid into the system every year under numbers that do not match the name. Very little of this money will ever be collected in SS benefits by the people who paid it.

There should be some middle ground between the states and the federal govt. on this issue - maybe a formula or compromise. Unfortunately it will most likely fall prey to politics, finger-pointing and politics. As a teacher my philosophy has always been to teach the kids in my classroom, irregardless of whatever "label" they may bring with them. Let's just hope that children are not being put out of school or otherwise denied an education.

Sharon,
Using your arguments that illegals pay enough taxes already, the USA should just stop federal, state, and city income taxes for ALL. According to you Americans pay enough in taxes for our country to run well if we only pay sales, phone and luxury taxes. I am all for no taxes but lets do it for all, not just a select hand picked few that illegally hand picked themselves.

I am only familiar with illegals from South America so I will leave my comments to them. Mexican illegals try to shop at only Mexican owned stores where they do not pay income taxes. For instance the Harry Hines Bazaar in Dallas which houses around 200 Mexican stores that do not charge sales tax. I bought something at the mall and tried to pay sales tax on it. The store owner had no idea what I was even talking about.
Property taxes when you have 25 people living in a 2 bedroom house is kind of a moot point.
There is a service ran by Mexicans that brings many goods from Mexico here without paying import taxes. It also takes goods to Mexico. Most goods are still purchased from Mexico even when the illegals are in the USA, thus skipping sales taxes.

Illegals can and do get back taxes that they pay in under stolen social security numbers. The way the system is set up now, an Illegal can become Sharon Kayne, work for a year, ruin Sharon Kayne's credit, then use a TIN (taxpayer identification number) that cannot be used to gain employment but can be used to get back any taxes paid into the government even if paid in under a stolen identity.

As far as unclaimed social security being paid in, we don't truly know it is unclaimed yet now do we? Most of the illegals are not old enough to start using their TINs to show they paid in social security taxes under the name and SS# of Sharon Kayne? The taxes will most likely be claimed as things stand now.

Apparently Lilathe has some limited experience with Mexicans and Texas. I wonder how she is able to identify a Mexican documented worker or Mexican-American from a person who is not documented, based upon the establishment at which they do their shopping? It sounds like a flea market to me, but I haven't been there.

Mexico, by the way, is not part of South America.

Identify theft is a problem in the US, but suggesting that a Mexican worker can pass off as a Sharon Kayne to gain employment and ruin credit, simply doesn't tell the whole story. Employers have the obligation to verify who they are hiring and most do. Some withhold taxes from the paycheck, pocket it, so the worker can never claim anything, as if claiming was so simple. The government has made improvements and the data bases catch abuses of this nature.

NAFTA has a great deal to do with commodities crossing the borders in both directions.


You would have to have your head buried in the sand in California, Texas and Arkansas to only have limited experience with Mexican nationals. I have EXTENSIVE knowledge of South American Illegals.

I must get off topic here and stress that undocumented and illegal are two different things. A car thief is an undocumented owner of your car. I am referring to illegal aliens not Mexican nationals that simply left their documents in their other pants.

Identifying most illegal alien invaders can be done by simply asking them their legal status. Most have no fear of deportation and at present have no need to worry about it.
The mall I used as an example is not a swap meet. Harry Hines Bazaar is a large mall that takes about eight hours to go through. They sell high quality clothing such as wedding dresses and evening wear among other items. I would compare it more to Dilliards/JC Pennys type mall than a swap meet. That is just ONE example I used, there are many many more.
The program that employers use to verify legal or illegal status is used by a very limited number of employers. It is called the basic pilot program -you can google it and it lists the employers that actually use it by state. It does NOT verify legal or illegal status, it just verify's that Sharon Kayne's social security number was in fact issued to Sharon Kayne and that the number and name match. As long as the illegal has a card with the correct SS# 400 people can use the same SS# and name and it won't raise a red flag.
Well it might raise a flag but unfortunately the IRS refuses to share the information that 400 people are using Sharon's SS# with the employers. 400 using the same SS# is not an exagerration, there are documented cases of this happening.
I might add that I have had to remove my children from public school here and home school them. I blame much of the fall in our public school system on the monies being taken out to fund children of illegal aliens.

For Lilathe: Illegal alien invaders, sounds like science fiction. Joking aside, I am glad you have found home schooling more satisfying for you and your children. Many do so, for a wide variety of reasons; however, I most respectfully disagree that children are the cause, documented or undocumented. There is no data to support that argument and the Utah analysis is a prime example.

In the last three jobs I applied for and got, I was required to present not only my social security card, but other evidence of legal status. Why is it inconvenient for some employers to make sure they are hiring people who have legal status? What is it that US consumers demand that fuel a market for unskilled low paid workers? What are you willing to give up? Small questions with complicated answers.

Mandatory checking was, in fact, a federal legal requirement about 20 years ago, but there was no funding for enforcement. It was clear then as it is now, that some industries would fold without these workers. However, employers can and are prosecuted for hiring inappropriately because they typically are breaking other labor laws as well.

I will break off from the thread with this last thought; no problem is solved by demonizing, scapegoating, or stereotyping segments of the population. If only the educational needs of all children were put first.

The word alien was used to refer to someone not from an area long before it was ever used in science fiction movies. The term alien is the correct term. They are not immigrants, that has a different definition. They are illegal, they are aliens, they have invaded the United States of America slowly a few thousand at a time.

I do not believe these people are "demons" nor am I scapegoating them. My family make-up is Comanche Indian/ hispanic. I am an American and I and my family pull our own weight, pay our taxes and follow the laws of the great United States of America.

Do we now have two sets of laws? One for me and mine and one for lawb-reakers? Do you or I have the right to make my children and your children pay to raise anyone that disregards the laws of our nation?
I simply want the legacy I leave my children to be one of a nation of laws, the same laws for everyone. Not a nation with one set of laws for the rich, another set of laws for the poor, a third set of laws for aliens.

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