Tulsa Hispanic Leaders Oppose School Bill

Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World, March 15, 2010

A bill that would require Oklahoma public schools to verify the immigration status of all students and report it to the state Department of Education drew fire from Tulsa Hispanic leaders Monday as well as criticism from Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard.

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Earlier in the day, representatives of the Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said the measure, House Bill 3384, by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, would create an unfunded mandate for already-strapped schools and is a step toward shutting illegal immigrants out of public education.

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Terrill denied that HB 3384 would infringe on any child’s access to public education or that its cost to schools would be significant. He said his only purpose is gathering accurate information about the cost of educating illegal immigrant children.

“Certainly, some schools are gathering this information already,” Terrill said.

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Terrill said he has no firm plans for using the data that would be collected by the schools. He did say, however, that he expects the data to show the cost of educating illegal immigrants to be “stunningly high.”

Such figures could be helpful in a challenge of the 1982 decision, which was based in part on the court’s finding that Texas had not proved that a “substantial interest” would be served by excluding illegal immigrant children from public schools.

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