RALEIGH, N.C.—The cost of educating children of illegal immigrants is more than 20 times what it was 10 years ago, and some argue that the money would be better spent on other students.
A study by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed educating illegal immigrants’ children costs the state an estimated $210 million a year. Ten years before, the figure was less than $10 million.
The state has already been overwhelmed trying to pay for people who are supposed to be here, said Ron Woodard, director of the Cary-based group N.C. Listen, which advocates for greater immigration restrictions.
“Why are we having to spend money on people who are here illegally?” Woodard said in a series appearing this week in the News & Observer of Raleigh.
From 2000 to 2005, Hispanics accounted for 57 percent of enrollment growth in the state’s public schools, the Kenan study showed. From 1990 to 2000, Hispanics accounted for 15 percent of enrollment growth. And the children of immigrants are more likely than average students to be poor and speak little English.
Nearly $45 million of the $6 billion the General Assembly appropriated for public schools this year went to English as a Second Language programs. Much of that money goes to the hiring of bilingual teachers.