Right now, school districts across the United States are monitoring the border crisis, as those undocumented minors may end up in their classrooms. On the first part Pronews 7 Investigates: Educating the Undocumented, we visited with two rural ISDs who already handle a large undocumented population. In this edition, we looked at the bigger picture of the unintended consequences of a broken immigration system, and why the border crisis just adds to problems that local school districts have already been dealing with for years.
READ MORE: Educating the Undocumented, Part I
The border crisis has brought thousands of unaccompanied minors to the United States, and they too will be enrolling at schools all over the country this academic year. That adds financial strain to a system that many say is already insufficient.
â??It takes more funding to educate these, and if weâ??re already in a deficit mode, and if we already donâ??t have the funding we need from the state, then we just get further and further behind,â?? said Kelly Moulton, the Hereford Superintendent of schools.
In an era of radical budget cuts, and unequal funding, this means that schools have to watch every dollar because they must follow federal law and educate every child.
â??We get by with less money than certainty a property rich school district does and so that doesnâ??t necessarily deal with the immigration issue, but if we get more kids into our system and we donâ??t get the money for them, weâ??re going to have to tighten our belts,â?? said Kelli Lusk, the Farwell Superintendent of schools.
Congressman Mac Thornberrry acknowledged that a broken immigration system creates a difficult situation for many local governments.
â??Itâ??s the federal governmentâ??s job to enforce our immigration laws and enforce our border,â?? said Representative Thornberry. â??The federal government is not doing its job and so there are consequences of that failure fall particularly on states like Texas.â??
Legal scholar David Strange, the author of the book: A Conservative and Compassionate Approach to Immigration Reform that was co-written with former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez, told Pronews 7 that current immigration policy is inadequate, and that much need to be revised, but that providing an education is absolutely essential to the future of this country.
â??When they do acquire status if we donâ??t give them an education, then weâ??ll just have a whole group of uneducated adults who are going to be burdens,â?? said Strange.
With our porous borders, places like the Texas Panhandle where thereâ??s the need for manual labor, people, documented or not, will continue coming. Agriculture is the economic heartbeat of this region, and this creates the need for many workers
â??People come to work the feedlots of Hereford or the dairies of Deaf Smith County,â?? said Moulton. â??They are entry level jobs, so theyâ??re young families that coming with young children.â??
Zelda Howell, an immigration lawyer says that many of her clients who are undocumented, end up becoming productive citizens.
â??Many of my clients have gone on to get really good jobs, be good productive members of society, and almost every single client I have is a hard worker,â?? said Howell.
Unfortunately, with the prospects of a federal immigration overhaul looking dim, schools all over the country continue to struggle with their budgets, while they meet the mandate to educate all.
â??It shouldnâ??t be a Republican or a Democrat thing; it should be whatâ??s best for America thing,â?? said Strange.
The reality is that the border crisis is just the latest chapter in a long history of a non-functional immigration system. Fixing our system could give schools some budgetary breathing room, but that would require political action in Washington.