A Debate Pertaining to Illegal Immigrant Children in Public Schools

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Roxie Vasquez
ENG 102-2270
03/25/06
Research Paper
A Debate Pertaining to Illegal Immigrant Children in Public Schools

“The terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” are commonly used phrases that refer to the illegality of the action of migration without legal authorization” (wikipedia). Whether or not illegal immigrant children should be educated at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels in the U.S., is a fiercely debated topic these days. Many debates are taking place all over the U.S. pertaining to whether or not illegal immigrant children are entitled to a free public education. One major debate taking place here in Arizona is that Governor Napolitano and “its controlled Legislature are locked in a stalemate over the teaching of the English language and how much to pay for it” (nytimes). Furthermore, illegal immigrant children should be given the chance to be educated in the U.S. and should not be banned from public schools because of their parent’s actions.

Illegal immigration is a crime and sneaking into the country is in violation of the immigration law. For many illegal immigrant children, it is a tragedy to be raised here in the U.S. as an American child, to later learn that all their life-long goals and dreams they worked so hard for, aren’t realistic because of their illegal status. The illegal status of these children becomes very deceiving to them because as a young child they have no idea that they are illegal immigrants. It is even more devastating for that child (when the possibility arrives) that later in life that child might have to return to that “unknown foreign country” they were born in. Also, the American people who live in areas consumed by large amounts of immigrants are concerned about their school budget and the quality of education their child receives.

To begin, one opposing argument against illegal immigrant children attending public schools is that it is widely believed that America cannot financially afford to educate the world’s children. Immigrant children attending public schools accounts for the dramatic increases in school enrollment, and failure to consider the capacity may have very real consequences for future public education in the U.S... Programs created specifically to serve students whose second language is English accounts for much of the extra costs and it is reported from Census that immigrant children accounts for such a large percentage of the school-age population. “An estimated 400,000 illegal immigrant children enter the U.S. each year and educating those children costs several states more than four billion dollars annually” (ap/online). Here in the state of Arizona, Governor Napolitano has “proposed spending $45 million a year to expand the English-language instruction in Arizona’s public schools” (nytimes). Secondly, a disagreement pertaining to illegal immigrant children attending public schools is that public schools in the U.S. are open to all children, in spite of their status and by law; it is mandatory that all children attend school. Also, the law states that each and every child, despite their legal status, is required to attend school from the age of six years to 16 years of age. The only necessary information to give in order to attend a public school is proof of residency in that district the child wishes to attend, a birth certificate, and vaccination records. In addition to laws, “Proposition 200 requires Arizonan’s to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote and apply for public benefits” (azcentral). Because of this law, a numerous amount of Americans are appalled that an illegal immigrant child can attend free public schools without showing any proof of citizenship. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled five to four, that undocumented immigrant children are entitled to a free public education. Also, it is common knowledge that “the action of INS has no effect on rules governing school enrollment”...
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