Abbott says the feds should cover the cost of educating undocumented students in Texas public schools

(TEXAS GRANDSTAND) – Govt. Greg Abbott wants the federal government to pay for the public education of undocumented students in Texas schools, arguing that President Joe Biden’s administration’s decision to lift the Title 42 policy later this month will lead to an influx of immigrants across the border which is “unsustainable and inevitable”.

Speaking to reporters at a campaign event in Houston on Thursday, Abbott expanded on comments he made Wednesday night during the San Antonio-based conservative radio show “The Joe Pags Show”.

During the show, Abbott said he would revisit the landmark 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, who struck down a Texas law that denied state funding to educate noncitizens.

In that case, four immigrant families sued the Tyler Independent School District for deporting their children when they could not provide birth certificates.

Abbott said states must be able to enforce their own immigration policies or the federal government should cover the cost of educating undocumented children in public schools.

“The Supreme Court ruled that the states do not have the power themselves to stop illegal immigration into the states,” he said. “However, after the Plyler decision, they say, ‘Nevertheless, the states must pay out of pocket for the federal government’s failure to secure the border.’ So one or both of these decisions will have to be made.

Abbott, who sent thousands of National Guard members to the frontier to shore up what he has insisted is a soft immigration enforcement by the Biden administration, is also a vocal opponent of lifting the policy known as Title 42 , which turned immigrants back to the US border with Mexico due to the pandemic. This order is expected to be lifted later this month.

Abbott pointed to the Plyler decision, as well as a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that found Arizona could not pass immigration laws that undermine federal immigration policy, reversing most state immigration laws.

The governor said the two decisions together violated the U.S. Constitution, which states that the federal government cannot commandeer a state employee or budget to enact federal policy.

Last month, an attorney for the Texas Education Agency testified before the House Public Education Committee that federal guidelines indicate that denying enrollment or attendance based on citizenship status would violate Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Texas does not track student citizenship status. Therefore, it is unknown how many undocumented students are enrolled or what the financial impact is on public schools in Texas. Texas spends a minimum of $6,160 per student, which lags behind the national average of $12,600 in 2018.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund sued Tyler ISD Superintendent James Plyler on behalf of four district families after the state passed a law allowing schools to charge tuition to undocumented students. In a statement Thursday, the legal organization criticized Abbott’s suggestion to revive Plyler.

“[W]While the Supreme Court split over the constitutionality of the challenged Texas law in the Plyler case, all justices, including then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist, agreed that the Texas law aimed at excluding undocumented children from school was bad public policy,” said Thomas Saenz. , President and General Counsel of MALDEF. “All the judges recognized the folly of excluding certain children from school; the ubiquitous truancy laws embody this well-supported notion. Abbott now seeks to intentionally inflict the harms that nine justices agreed should be avoided 40 years ago.

Abbott also told reporters Thursday that immigration is “different” today than it was 40 years ago when Plyler was ruled.

“Initially, the only language barrier was Spanish. Now we have people from over 105 different countries around the world,” he said. “Who has this level of expertise where we can find the teachers who know all these multitudes of different languages ​​to be able to educate the children and think how much it would cost?”

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About Jefferey G. Cannon

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