Exploring the Impact of Illegal Immigration on America’s School
Chris Cuomo’s Law states:
As a political debate grows longer, the probability that a liberal will argue “think of the children” approaches certainty.
Cuomo’s Law is a little like Godwin’s Law, except debates involving Hitler are invariably more entertaining. But the principle is the same: the more you argue with liberals, the more likely they are to remind you to “think of the children”—as if doing so ends the debate.
The law is named after long-time CNN commentator Chris Cuomo, whose standard refrain when it comes to the illegal immigration debate is “deporting illegals immigrants will break-up families—just think of the children.”
Well, I took Cuomo’s advice. I thought of the children—America’s children.
What I found is that illegal immigration hurts Americans kids by depriving them of a decent education. Illegal immigrants and anchor babies flood public schools thereby increasing student-to-teacher ratios and watering-down funding. Likewise, schools with a high proportion of illegals are generally more violent and disorderly, in part due to the cultural and linguistic barriers between Americans and foreigners.
In this article I’ll explore the impact of illegal immigration on America’s education system in three states: California, Texas, and Illinois. I’ll start with California because it’s there the problem is biggest.
1. How Illegal Immigration Destroyed California’s Public Education System
Although California spends $88.3 billion on its K-12 public education system, its schools are among the worst in the country. Not only does California have one of the highest student-to-teacher ratios in America—35 percent above the national average—but per-pupil spending has been decreasing steadily.
A recent study ranked California’s K-12 public education system as the 37th worst in the Union in terms of educational quality, and 49th in terms of school safety. That is, California’s schools not only provide students with middling educations in reading and arithmetic, but they’re also dangerous, violent places. Many high schools are little more than publicly-funded gang-academies.
This is bad news for everyone all around—so what’s causing it? Why are California’s schools so bad?
But none of these get to the root of the problem: illegal immigration.
There are 1,227,000 Illegal Immigrants & Anchor Babies Enrolled in California’s Public Schools: 1 in 5 Students
Illegal immigration, primarily from Mexico and Latin America, has destroyed California’s public education system. This is due to overcrowding and culture-shock. Let’s look at the numbers.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are 1,227,000 illegal immigrants, or their children, currently enrolled in California’s K-12 public school system. Of these 252,000 are undocumented, and 975,000 are anchor babies, ie. the children of illegal immigrants who are American citizens. I include them in my figures because but for illegal immigration, they would not be an issue.
All these children are educated at state expense. While the California Department of Education does not include undocumented children as a separate statistical category, and therefore does not know how much they cost, we do know that total enrollment in California’s K-12 public school system was 6,226,737 in 2016.
This means that 1,227,000 students out of 6,226,737 in California’s public schools are either here illegally, or are anchor babies. That works out to 19.7 percent, or 1 in 5 California students.
California Spends $17.4 Billion Educating Illegals & Anchor Babies
According to the state budget, California spends $88.3 billion on primary education. Given the proportion of illegal aliens and anchor babies relative to the broader student body, we can conclude that illegal aliens and their children consume $17.4 billion in additional educational costs.
Of course, you could make the argument that the true figure is somewhat lower, because of cost savings due to economies of scale. Perhaps, but it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that Californian students are suffering because of illegal immigration. Recall how I mentioned that California’s student-to-teacher ratio was abysmal? If we exclude undocumented students (and anchor babies) from the equation, California’s ratio would be among the best in America. Likewise, per-pupil funding would be far higher.
And let’s not forget that the English-language literacy rates for illegals is abysmally low. This means that schools must spend time on remedial lessons, and hire expensive translators, rather than helping students get ahead.
Money may not directly translate into better educations, but it certainly helps.
And of course, there’s the issue of violence. The fact is that most of California’s gang violence is caused by illegal immigrants. They tend to recruit poor, Hispanic teenagers either at school or in the neighborhood. This gang mentality permeates school cultures, leading to increased violence, and increases general disorder.
2. K-12 Education for Illegals Costs Texas $7.9 Billion Annually
There are 509,000 anchor babies and 79,000 illegal immigrants under the age of majority in Texas, according to the Migration Policy Institute. This gives us a total of 588,000 children presumably enrolled in Texas’ public education system (illegals rarely attend private schools).
This is a large proportion of Texas’ student body. In fact, total public school enrollment in the state was only 5,299,728 in 2016. Therefore, roughly 1 in 9 (11.1 percent) students enrolled in Texas’ public education system are there because of illegal immigration.
Looking at the costs: Texas’s state budget allocated $61 billion to K-12 public schools in Fiscal Year 2016. Given that 11.1 percent of students in Texas are illegals or anchor babies, we can conclude that illegal immigration consumes $6.8 billion annually in educational costs.
Additionally, the Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that in 2014, remedial English lessons cost Texan taxpayers $1.1 billion—one can only imagine that the bulk of these lessons were directed at illegals. Adding these costs gives us a better estimate: Texas spends $7.9 billion educating illegal immigrants annually.
Of course, this doesn’t include scholarship and subsidies for college, as the above girl doubtlessly received. Adding these would only push the cost higher, although it’s beyond this article’s scope.
3. Illegal Immigration & Education, Illinois
When people think of Illinois, they don’t think of illegal immigration, which is part of the reason why the problem has gone under the radar for so long. Nevertheless, illegals are a big problem in Illinois, and are one of the main reasons the education system is degrading.
According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, there are 198,000 children in the state of Illinois who are either illegal immigrants (24,000) or anchor babies (174,000)—the vast majority of whom are likely educated at public expense.
Pinning down the cost of illegal immigration on the education system should be an easy task, but it’s not. Why? Because according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s guidelines:
School districts are prohibited from requiring Social Security numbers, which are not required to determine eligibility for any education benefits (including pre-K services) or other benefits, such as free or reduced lunch. Schools are required to provide undocumented immigrant students all the same benefits and services made available to other students.
Basically, the Illinois State Board of Education doesn’t keep track of which students are US citizens, and which aren’t—and even if they did, they specify that illegal immigrants must receive the same treatments as US citizens.
And of course, since this article’s concerned with the impact of illegal immigration as a phenomena, we’re also interested in the costs associated with anchor babies (people born on US soil to aid the parents in circumventing US immigration law), who wouldn’t be in America but for their parent’s illegal act.
Although Illinois doesn’t track its students legal status, we can put two-and-two together. We know that the total public school enrollment for Illinois in 2016 was 1,929,660 students (K-12). Likewise, we know that the vast majority of illegal immigrants attend public schools. This means that roughly 10.3 percent of children educated in Illinois are either illegal immigrants or anchor babies—that is 1 in 10 K-12 students in Illinois.
Now for the financials.
Despite the fact that Illinois hasn’t passed a budget in years, they still fund public education. According to Illinois’ comptrollers office, the state spent $13.7 billion in 2016 on public K-12 education. This is down from 2015, when it spent $16.5 billion for education. The number is decreasing because Illinois is in deep financial trouble—years of Democrat governments has led to crippling debt and a bloated public sector.
Moving on: given that 10.3 percent of Illinois’ students are there because of illegal immigration, and they get the same funding as every other student, this means they cost $1.41 billion in additional education costs. And remember, this doesn’t include non-monetary costs, such as a lower quality education due to crowding, nor post-secondary costs.
Illegal Immigration Hurts America’s Students Most
Illegal immigration has many consequences, but few are as a sad as what’s happening to America’s schools. How can the education system function when its numbers are swollen by millions of students, many of whom speak English as a second language, and require remedial lessons?
Every dollar spent on illegals is a dollar not spent on Americans. We’re depriving our children of a decent education, and the benefits that come with it. How many Americans could have become engineers or doctors, but instead spent their time sitting through remedial lessons designed to bring undocumented students up to speed—public education necessarily caters to the lowest common denominator.
This is a problem for families that can’t afford private school: they rely on the public system to provide an adequate education. It’s not, and part of the reason is that it’s spread too thin. It’s time we thought of the children, and ended illegal immigration once and for all.