State Capitol News
5:06 pm
Thu June 25, 2009

Senate asks students to prove citizenship

Phoenix, AZ – The Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday to require schools
to ask parents to prove their children are in this country
legally.

Sen. Russell Pearce said everyone knows there are children in
Arizona schools who aren't here legally, students that, for the
time being, the state has to educate. What isn't known are the
numbers -- and the cost.

(And I'd like to know, personally, as we have this debate, what
is the real cost? I mean, we have it all over the board because
of the don't ask, don't tell kind of philosophy. And I think
that's inappropriate. The taxpayers pay for this. They have a
right to know.)

The U.S. Supreme Court has said states cannot refuse to enroll
children who cannot prove legal presence in this country. Pearce
said, though, that doesn't bar schools from inquiring -- as long
as no student is turned away for failing to provide the
documentation sought. But Alessandra Meeze of the American Civil
Lierties Union said that would be the practical effect of asking.

(Both the constitution and the federal laws prohibit the use of
immigration information to deny admission to schools. So what the
bill would do, the bill would serve as a de facto ban because it
would deter parents, immigrant parents, from enrolling their
children in school.)

The closest guess now on the information Pearce wants comes from
the Pew Hispanic Center which estimates perhaps as many as 65,000
out of the 1.2 million youngsters in Arizona schools are in this
country illegally.