School Officials Complain as Trump’s Migration Reforms Redirect Funds to American Children

Children of Illegal Immigrants in School
Jack Guez/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s migration reforms are cutting the flow of taxpayer funds to the American teachers and schools that welcome the children of illegal migrants, say education industry insiders.

Federal funding for Baltimore’s John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School has declined because many adults migrants are refusing to enroll in federal anti-poverty welfare programs, the New York Times reported June 16. The migrants are avoiding the welfare programs because of fear they will get deportation notices instead of green cards:

The southeast Baltimore school lost more than $240,000 for the next school year after it was dropped from a federal anti-poverty program, called Title I, which doles out billions of dollars to the country’s poorest schools. That loss is a fraction of its $4.8 million budget for next year, but the money covered three staff positions and kept class sizes in the 30s. The Title I status also attracted teachers, who were eligible for tuition grants from the federal government for teaching poor children.

In this cash-short school district here, official poverty rates in at least a dozen schools serving high populations of English-language learners have plummeted in the last four years, while the material well-being of many of those students has not really changed.

The concern is driven by President Donald Trump’s various regulatory efforts to deter migration by keeping migrants from enrolling in welfare and aid programs, including Medicaid and food stamps. Those aid programs allow employers to hire migrants and Americans at wages far below what is needed to prosper in the United States.

One of the biggest aid programs is Title 1, which distributes $16 billion each year to schools that teach many poor students, including the growing number of migrant children who are being brought into the United States via the catch and release loopholes. In effect, the federal government — especially since 2011 — is using Title 1 to pay state schools to welcome and teach the children of illegal immigrants, regardless of the impact on Americans’ children. 

This year, up to one million migrants will use Congress’s catch and release rules, including hundreds of thousands of children who will be placed into American children’s classrooms. For example, 60,000 migrant children were brought across the border from May 1 to June 10, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan told a Senate hearing June 11. 

President Donald Trump is using a variety of tools — including a border deal with Mexic0 — to block the migration into ordinary Americans’ workplaces, neighborhoods, and classrooms.

His move to deny green cards to migrants who are using welfare can indirectly help American children if it reduces the number of migrants who declare they are poor. Those would allow some Title 1 funds to be redirected to schools with poor American students. 

More than 60 percent of the children in the Baltimore school are children of legal or illegal migrants who are learning English as a second language, the NYT admits. The PublicSchoolReview.com site also shows that the school’s population more than doubled from 300 to 750 from 2008 to 2016 as many Central Americans illegally migrated into the United States.

The huge inflow of migrant children has been a bonanza for the government-funded education sector. For example, the inflow allowed the Baltimore principal to go on a hiring spree and add 25 new teachers, according to the PublicSchoolReview.com site. The New York Times‘ headline admitted “Immigrants Brought Riches to Urban Schools. Now They’re in the Shadows.”

Amid the chaos inflicted on Americans children, the principal of the Baltimore school touted her concern for the foreign children, many of whom have been imported by their illegal-immigrant parents: “We’re angry,” [principal] Ms. [Mary] Donnelly said. “But we’re going to make sure the children don’t suffer. Here, they count.”

The vast majority of the migrants are very poor. In 2015, for example, 90 percent of the children at Donnelly’s school were classified as poor, according to a May report by the Baltimore Sun:

Schools do not ask families for proof of citizenship. While some students in city schools are undocumented, many are themselves U.S. citizens, but come from households of mixed immigration statuses.

Every week, the school distributes dozens of backpacks filled with crackers, peanut butter and other non-perishables. Students can take one home if they are worried about having enough to eat over the weekend.

“It’s rare,” Donnelly says, “there’s a backpack left over.”

But the American children in Baltimore and other cities also will be hard hit when their migrant-crowded schools lose funding.

The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun do not mention the migrants’ damaging impact on the schooling offered to the American children. 

The Federation for American Immigration Reform outlined the scale of the problem, and the declining quality of education for American children amid the chaos caused by the establishment’s eagerness for greater diversity: 

An article in a Nashville newspaper about public schools “straining at the seams” chronicled an [English Language Learner] ELL student who maintained a B grade point average but lacked the ability to read or write English. In one [Limited English Proficiency] LEP class, 35 students spoke 16 languages and displayed skills ranging from illiterate to high functioning, which made it “that much harder to tailor lesson plans.” Several graduates of John Overton High School in Nashville returned to tell the principal that “they went out in to the world, only to find they lacked the English skills they should have gotten” in school. The mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts, admitted that adult illegal aliens are enrolled in city high schools, that illegal immigrant students often repeat grades and that an influx of immigrants is straining the school system and other city services.

The impact on children of blue-collar and white-collar Americans is caused, in part, by the funding diverted to educate migrant children who do not speak English, and who received little education in their home countries. FAIR reported:

Adding to the burden, the number of [Limited English Proficiency] LEP students in public schools jumped from around 3.5 million in 1998 to 4.93 million in 2013. To educate 4.9 million LEP students nationwide, there are 346,776 LEP-certified or trained teachers (as of 2013). These programs come at a substantial cost. Hempstead, New York, for example, specifically dedicates almost 33 percent of all budgeted teacher salaries to ELL-certified educators, not counting benefits, which FAIR estimates to cost just under a third of salaries. In addition to requiring a tremendous amount of money in new teacher hires, or providing existing teachers with ELL training when possible, LEP programs place additional stress on already overworked teachers, hampering their ability to distribute time and resources to as many pupils as possible. At the end of the 2011 school year, for example, 1,817,842 teachers (58.6 percent of the total) taught at least one LEP student, even though as many as 1,471,066 teachers lack the certification or training to teach this population.

Only nine percent of the children in the Baltimore elementary school are proficient in math or English, according to state data displayed by the greatschools.org website. PublicSchoolReview.com reports:

The percentage of students achieving proficiency in Math is 9% (which is lower than the Maryland state average of 42%) for the 2015-16 school year. The percentage of students achieving proficiency in Reading/Language Arts is 10% (which is lower than the Maryland state average of 44%) for the 2015-16 school year.

Minority enrollment is 81% of the student body (majority Hispanic), which is higher than the Maryland state average of 61%.

Many wealthy parents insulate their children from the diversity chaos by moving into expensive districts with few migrants or by sending their children to private schools. So far, there has been no movement by wealthy parents urging the transfer of migrants’ children from poor schools to the schools in affluent neighborhoods. 

The NYT report showcases one of the many welfare programs that go to migrant families, often via Americans’ taxpayer-funded public schools. Advocates for migration deny that migrants are eligible for welfare but sidestep the variety of aid programs that are indirectly delivered to migrants, often via their foreign-born and U.S.-born children.

Immigration Numbers:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

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