2010-08-12 / Letters
Taxpayers unfairly bear cost of illegal immigrants’ education
There is one aspect of the crisis in school funding in New Jersey that is often overlooked — specifically, the cost of educating illegal immigrants and their children. According to the Pew Research Center, as many as 9.9 percent of all public school students in New Jersey are the children of illegal immigrants. The state of New Jersey partially funds school districts. But because of their undocumented status, many illegal immigrants do not have state income tax contributions deducted from their paychecks, and consequently those of us who are citizens or otherwise live here legally and pay taxes are subsidizing the education of illegals’ children; meanwhile, the programs offered to our children are being cut because of budget constraints. Consequently, the presence of illegals in the country amounts to a theft of resources from the children of citizens and legal residents — or, put another way, it amounts to a form of foreign aid which neither I nor my congressional representatives ever voted for, and which is being awarded to people who are openly flouting American laws.
I am not reflexively anti-immigrant; in fact, my wife is a legal immigrant and a naturalized citizen. However, she and her family went through the established legal channels for immigration and had all the required paperwork prior to ever setting foot on American soil. I merely ask that anyone else wishing to become an American follow the same steps. In a time of fiscal crisis, why should the rest of us be paying for the education of illegal immigrants and their children? Isn’t this the responsibility of taxpayers in their countries of origin? When my wife and I enrolled our children in school, we were required to provide extensive documentation to prove that we (the parents) truly resided in the school district. It is reasonable to ask that, upon enrolling children in school, the parents or legal guardians also be asked for proof of their citizenship or legal status, and if none can be provided, they should be advised that these children are required to be enrolled in school in the country of which their parent or legal guardian is a citizen.
When the state does not have enough resources and everyone’s children are penalized as a result, and the estimated cost of educating the children of illegals is so high, something must be done. I understand that under the current interpretation of existing laws, screening the dependents of the undocumented from the public school system is problematic. But consider this: Even though I am a citizen and my children are citizens, I do not have carte blanche to enroll my children in whichever school district I choose; I must either enroll them where I legally reside or pay tuition (and not all districts would even allow my children to enroll, regardless of tuition payments, if we are not legal residents). Why should this system work any differently with respect to immigration status?
I strongly believe that neither an amnesty nor a “pathway to citizenship” is the answer for people who have broken the law — if they want to become Americans they can return to their home countries and wait for their turn, as my wife and her family did. To provide an amnesty or a “pathway to citizenship” would only serve to reward illegal immigration and encourage more. The answer is enforcement of the existing immigration laws.
I urge anyone concerned about this issue, and about where their tax dollars are going, to let their elected officials know how they feel.
Russel Like East Brunswick