Phoenix, AZ – No one knows how many of the approximately one million children
in Arizona schools are U.S. citizens or at least legal residents.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in the 60-65,000 range a few
years ago. Sen. Russell Pearce said he thinks it's higher. More
to the point, he wants an accurate number to figure out the real
cost to taxpayers, which he said is at least $800 million a year.
(We currently, you don't know numbers. Taxpayers have a right to
know who they're paying for, how many they're paying for. All
this is at this point is is data collection.)
But Pearce has another goal. He wants to overturn a U.S. Supreme
Court ruling which said states have to educate all children,
legal and otherwise. The justices said that Texas, the defendant
in the lawsuit, didn't prove that educating illegal immigrants
presents a burden on the state. Pearce said this report will give
Arizona the data to do that. But Dan Pochoda of the ACLU said
just demanding documentation is an illegal end-run around the
ruling, even if students are not turned away.
(There's no doubt that it will cause fear in the minds of
families. And some students will not attend schools who are
legally entitled to who otherwise would.)
Pochoda said if the measure becomes law his organization will
sue. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.