A possible amnesty for illegal immigrants could be devastating to Arizona’s public schools, warned state superintendent John Huppenthal.
The law already requires state governments to educate all children, regardless of their legal status, but Huppenthal still said that a widespread amnesty for illegal immigrants, which it has been rumored President Obama may unilaterally implement, could encourage fresh arrivals and inundate the state’s education system with additional migrants.
“In the past there have been complex effects … depending on how it’s worded, how it’s structured, how it’s administered,” Huppenthal said of immigration reform efforts. “All of these things could inadvertently open up the flood and hit us, hit us hard.”
He produced figures making the claim that if 10,000 additional illegal immigrants were added to the state’s schools, the price tag would surpass $50 million for the state’s taxpayers.
Huppenthal’s press conference was accompanied by the release of a letter in which he asked the federal government for $1 million to help with the education of over 200 migrant children who have crossed the border in recent months and been sent to Arizona prior to deportation hearings.
“Having to pay for the tremendous educational costs associated with the federal government’s failure to secure the border is not new to Arizona taxpayers or Arizona schools,” Huppenthal said in the letter. “What is new, though, and what is unprecedented, is the federal government’s actions to relocate at least hundreds of unaccompanied minors … to Arizona’s cities and towns, where they will attend Arizona schools.”
Arizona Democrats quickly accused Huppenthal of attacking immigrant children in a desperate bid to hold on in the upcoming Republican primary in the the state.
“When you’re losing in the polls and it looks like your days as an elected official are numbered, that’s when you start moving towards attacking undocumented kids,” State Sen. Steve Gallardo told the East Valley Tribune.
Huppenthal insisted his abrupt press conference was unrelated to the primary, and was instead prompted by the “imminent” possibility of Obama acting unilaterally on immigration.
Huppenthal has been embattled by accusations that he has flip-flopped on the issue of Common Core, and by the discovery that he made anonymous comments on Internet blogs in which he referred to welfare recipients as “lazy pigs.”
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