Students at Roberts Elementary School are earning higher marks, and some of the credit goes to immigrant parents who learned English to help their kids study at home, said Marcos Quijada, the school’s principal.
But Quijada and his colleagues wonder whether the trend will continue as Proposition 200 takes hold in Tucson and the rest of the state.
The law denying certain public services such as state-funded wage subsidies for undocumented immigrants was passed by Arizona voters in November and has been in effect about three months.
While no firm numbers were given, workers at the Pima County Health Department, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic and Tucson schools say they are seeing evidence of a dropoff in participation in programs such as literacy training, food stamps and medical services that they believe is tied to confusion about Proposition 200.
Roberts, 4355 E. Calle Aurora, with a student population that is 80 percent Hispanic, offers adult literacy classes at its school through Literacy Volunteers of Tucson. But this year, enrollment in the classes has dropped significantly, Quijada said.
The fears, unfounded or not, are having a real impact in Tucson, said Sandie Lujan, family advocate at Tucson Community Food Bank. Many of the food bank’s clients are undocumented, Lujan said.
To “at least 10 families in the last month, I’ve said, ‘You need to apply for food stamps because your children were born in the U.S.’ And they said, ‘No, we heard Border Patrol picked up somebody,’ “ Lujan said.
The Pima County Health Department’s Women Infants and Children program saw a drop in its enrollment after Proposition 200 passed, said Patti Woodcock, the department’s director of community relations. The department is doing outreach to clarify that Proposition 200 did not affect eligibility for WIC, providing assistance to young families. Woodcock said WIC enrollment numbers are slowly climbing again.