Six school districts in the Washington, D.C. region spend nearly $2.4 billion a year on Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and other programs that benefit illegal immigrant students.
A new Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) study, Cost in Translation: English Language Education in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, determined that last summer’s border crisis “exacerbated an already formidable and costly task for public school educators and administrators in many localities across the United States.”
As FAIR noted, at least 55,000 illegal immigrant juveniles “were released to relatives and other sponsors throughout the United States between October 2013 and September 2014,” and at least 5,100 of those unaccompanied minors “settled in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where there is a sizable illegal alien population of approximately 438,000 with an additional approximately 100,000 U.S.-born children of illegal aliens.”
FAIR President Dan Stein said that the “negative impact on schools detailed in this report is being compounded by conscious decisions by the Obama administration to encourage and reward illegal immigration.”
The report found that Arlington, Virginia, for instance, spent nearly $128 million (23.7% of its education budget) on LEP programs and other services for illegal immigrants. Other counties and jurisdictions have spent an even greater amount on similar programs:
Nearly half, 45.8 percent of the Alexandria, Virginia, public school system’s budget is now devoted to the needs of LEP students who comprise nearly 30 percent of the student body. The Alexandria schools have experienced a 125 percent growth in its LEP population since the 2005-06 school year.
Fairfax County, Virginia, carries the largest cost burden in the area, spending more than $676 million a year [27% of its education budget] on education and services for more than 33,000 LEP students. 27%
Montgomery County bears the largest burden among Maryland school districts, spending more than $466 million [20.1% of its education budget] on LEP students.
Throughout the D.C. metro area, education costs for LEP students are about 50 percent higher than for English-speaking students. The costs for recently arrived unaccompanied minors are an additional 25 percent higher than other LEP students.
Though the study focused on the D.C. region, Stein noted that “in almost every corner of our nation, our failed immigration policies are resulting not only in huge costs to local taxpayers, but are diverting vital educational resources away from the needs of other children in those schools.” He emphasized that, “as in the D.C. area, the children short-changed by the money being siphoned to provide for the needs of the LEP population are most often those from disadvantaged communities where educational resources are already strained.”
“Immigration laws exist in this country, and every other nation on Earth, in order to protect the vital interests of our citizens,” he added. “Few interests are more important than the quality of education a society provides to its children. Unfortunately, for families living in the Washington metro area who cannot afford the $36,264 tuition to send their kids to the Sidwell Friends School, these interests are being sacrificed by the policies of this administration, and policies of local governments that place the concerns of illegal aliens above those of other residents.”