Are Foreign Children Entitled to Free Public Education?
Any child, whether being an American citizen, legal
immigrant, or illegal immigrant has the right to a free public school
education. This is a highly debated concept, since taxpayer money is used to
fund the education of children who were allowed to enter the country in the
first place, regardless of legal status. Arguments for and against this policy
tend to lead to specific questions of whether or not children of illegal
immigration, both foreign-born and domestically-born, should be entitled to an
education in the United States.
As with most issues on the topic of
illegal immigration, political opinions vary with regard to illegal immigrants
in public schools and which immigration laws should be enacted alongside these
concerns. Currently, laws addressing illegal immigration permit all children to
receive a public education.
A primary issue presented by presence of children of illegal immigration in the
public school system is the underlying cost of their general education. In
2004, statistics showed that California spent about $7.7 billion per year to
educate the total number of illegal immigrants in public schools–a figure that
comprised 17% of the budget for the entire school system in California.
California has a high rate of illegal immigration because of its close
proximity to the Mexican border, and it was discovered that in the entire
United States, it cost $28.4 billion in 2004 to educate the children of illegal
immigrants in public schools.
Ultimately, presence of children of illegal immigration in the public school
system, and the general expenses that surround them, creates a very expensive
situation, in addition to causing a large degree of controversy. Since efforts
are being made by Congress to allow children of illegal immigration to attend
college, the tension has greatly escalated; some individuals think that
offering a college education to the children of illegal immigrants provide
undue incentives to immigrate illegally.
The presence of children of illegal immigration in the public school system
continues to stir up debate. While the idea of paying taxes for legal immigrant
children to become educated evokes tension, some take opposing views in
considering that public dollars are spent educating children of illegal
immigration. Despite a concerted effort to enact a counter-policy that these
immigrant laws hold, children of illegal immigration are still permitted to
partake in the American public school system.