Texas Officials Blame Mexico's Economy for New Illegal Aliens

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

With the Texas school year a few weeks old, some districts near the Mexican border are reporting significant increases in the number of students who are the children of illegal aliens, but school officials attribute the increase to the sagging Mexican economy, rather than to the Supreme Court's June ruling that the state must educate illegal aliens.

Districts elsewhere in the state have not seen large numbers of new illegal alien students, according to a state official who worked on the court case, and it appears thus far that the Supreme Court's ruling will not result in the huge influx of illegal alien students that some had predicted. The immigration that does occur, however, could pose problems for individual districts, officials say.

The Court, in Plyler v. Doe, struck down a Texas law permitting districts to charge tuition for educating illegal aliens--or to refuse to educate them--on the grounds that the law violated the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Texas was the only state that had such a law.

The decision was accompanied by wide-spread speculation that it would result in a wave of new illegal alien students.

The Texas Education Agency does not yet have figures on the growth in illegal-alien enrollment this year, but telephone calls from the districts indicate, a spokesman said, that "in areas immediately bordering Mexico there appears to have been between a 10-to-20 percent increase [in the number of alien students]."

Not Much Growth Elsewhere

Elsewhere in the state, he said, there does not seem to have been large growth.

Last year, the state estimated there were 20,000 undocumented aliens in Texas schools. Assuming a 20-percent increase, the spokesman said, there would be an increase of 4,000 such students.

Raymon L. Bynum, Texas commissioner of education, predicted before a House education subcommittee in August that the number of illegal alien children in the state will grow between 5,000 and 8,000 per year, and urged that the federal government provide "impact aid" to offset the cost of educating the new arrivals.

A House bill to provide such federal aid is still in committee.

"We very definitely have more," said Fred R. Reyna Jr. of the Laredo Independent School District's office of research, planning, and student services. "In the past we got a fairly constant number every year--20 or 25." So far this year, there are 90 new illegal alien students in the 23,000-student district, he said.

"It's difficult to estimate how many we will ultimately have, because this is setting a precedent," Mr. Reyna said. Mexican economic conditions are "definitely" a more important cause of the surge than the court decision, he added.

The 18,000-student McAllen Independent School District, located in the southern tip of Texas, has seen a marked increase, but not a huge flood, said Richard R. Chapa, an assistant superintendent.

Mr. Chapa has counted 112 new illegal alien students this year, compared to about 80 last year. He estimated that the district enrolls about 1,800 such students in all.

"The main problem," Mr. Chapa said, "is that we get all these families--legally and illegally--for which we have no previous tax base." As a result of fairly rapid growth in enrollment, the school district is building several new schools and has been forced to use portable classrooms.

Armando G. Carasco, a principal in the 750-student Presidio Independent School District, so far has counted 50 illegal alien students, compared to a total of 20 last year.

"In the past, we educated anybody in the district," he said, "so the Supreme Court decision did not affect our district ... Devaluation of the peso is the main reason [for the increase]."

In the 940-student Culberson County Independent School District, "significant" numbers of new alien children are straining the district's English-as-a-Second-Language (esl) classes, according to Superintendent Lewis S. Rogers.

Mr. Rogers has counted 30 new illegal alien students so far this year. "The increase is overloading the esl program," he said. "We now have about a 40-to-1 classroom ratio," he said.

"If it continues we'll have to pull teachers from another program or add staff."

He believes that the growth will continue. "As word gets around in Northern Mexico that there are laws in place in this country that allow children of illegal aliens to attend free public schools in this country, there'll be more," he said.

Vol. 02, Issue 03

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >