Posted on June 10, 2005

Report Card on America’s Schools: Illegal Immigration Provides Lesson in Negative Numbers

Federation for American Immigration Reform, June 6

With the traditional end of the school year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has updated its study of the impact of illegal immigration on America’s public schools. Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools Into the Red estimates that nationwide, the cost of educating the children of illegal aliens in the U.S. now runs an astonishing $28.6 billion.

The $28.6 billion figure does not include ancillary costs such as school-based nutrition programs that are provided to children from low-income families, or additional costs associated with the need to teach English to non-English speakers. Estimates based on Census Bureau data, suggest that there are about 1.5 million illegal alien children and an additional 2 million U.S.-born children of illegal aliens in K-12 classrooms across the country.

California, at $7.7 billion a year, leads the nation in expenditures for education of the children of illegal aliens, but five other states also have costs in excess of a billion dollars annually. “The exploding costs of educating the children of illegal aliens all across the country give a whole new meaning to ‘the little red schoolhouse,’” observed Dan Stein, President of FAIR. “America’s public education system is awash in red ink, and mass illegal immigration is a huge part of the growing gap between meeting our educational objectives and the resources available.”

According to a January report by the investment firm Bear Stearns, about one-third of all illegal aliens employed in the U.S. are working off-the-books, so no direct payroll taxes are being collected. Most of the rest are working for very low wages, meaning that tax withholding can cover only a small fraction of the cost of educating a single child, much less several children in the family.

According to Breaking the Piggy Bank, the costs of educating the children of illegal aliens contribute to massive education deficits in states like California. If it were not for these costs, according to the report, the red ink could be eliminated, and there would be additional funds left over to make meaningful improvements in education.

“Every politician worth his or her salt talks about improving public education,” said Stein. “But somehow they manage to divorce improved education from the phenomenon of mass illegal immigration that is consuming educational resources faster than states and communities can increase them. The government’s refusal to deal with the illegal immigration crisis is having a devastating impact on public education all across the country. The children who are being especially cheated are the at-risk kids from families that lack the resources to fill in the gaps left by failing schools, or the ability to move out of school districts that are overwhelmed by illegal immigration.”