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Requiring Besieged States to School Illegal Children

Immigration: The states aren’t told how many unaccompanied children are being unloaded on them, when they’re coming or where they are. But the federal government says that they’re as entitled to an education as the children of U.S. citizens.

IBD: Aug 14, 2014; Section: Issues & Insights; Page: A13

Just in time for the new school year, the Education Department issued a fact sheet on Monday reminding school systems and their administrators that they are required to enroll and educate, at taxpayers’ expense, the estimated 69,200 unaccompanied minors who have flooded across our open southern border, a number some predict will balloon to 150,000 by year’s end.

We have referred many times to the magnets that attract illegal immigrants, and this is just one more — a promise that the children of Honduras are entitled to an American-paid education.

Once enrolled in our schools, they know and we know it’s likely they and their families will stay here forever. It’s also likely this will encourage more to come.

“All children in the United States are entitled to equal access to a public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their or their parents’ actual or perceived national origin, citizenship or immigration status,” according to the fact sheet.

“This includes recently arrived unaccompanied children, who are in immigration proceedings while residing in local communities with a parent, family member or other appropriate adult sponsor.”

This is no doubt good news to systems such as the Chicago Public Schools, filled with children unable to escape inner-city poverty and crime.

CPS has been rocked by school closings and consolidations. When it was discovered that 748 of the unaccompanied children from Central America have found their way to the area, local protests erupted.

After they arrived, Sen. Mark Kirk told Fox News that he was unaware of the exact locations of the facilities where the children were sent, and said he believes the White House did not want the children’s living conditions to be made public, a pattern repeated as these unaccompanied minor children are distributed throughout America.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman recently blasted the Obama administration for refusing to provide any details about the more than 200 children who at that point had been placed in his state.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has said unequivocally he did not want his state to host any of the more than 69,000 children now in federal custody.

The Education Department bases its fact sheet guidance on a 1982 Supreme Court decision that says children of illegal immigrants have a right to a public education.

They may be entitled under the law to get an education once here. But entitled to be here in the first place they are not.

The failure to enforce border security in any meaningful way has created this torrent, along with other actions inviting it. With some funding provided through federal programs, taxpayers are footing the bill one way or another.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is among those who say their states cannot afford to stretch their limited resources to those who are not here legally.

“If we have eight kids in the state right now, and if there are any state dollars going there, there are eight Mainers not getting services,” he said last month, noting “there’s not an endless pot of money” in his state.

Maybe this is what President Obama has in mind when he speaks of “shared sacrifice.” But it’s not what many states want or what taxpayers can afford. They have a tough enough time caring for their own children.