The wave of arrivals at the southern border is further straining the education system, increasing demand for special English lessons that already cost taxpayers $78 billion a year, an immigration watchdog warns.
A study by the American Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) indicates that the crisis at the border and the influx of unaccompanied minors were increasing this price by billions of dollars each year.
The call for more English classes expands a system already struggling with a teacher shortage that has forced some states to relax rules and hire adults with no more than a high school diploma.
Launching the report, The Elephant in the Classroom, FAIR President Dan Stein said schools are “already failing our children” and looser border rules under President Joe Biden are making matters worse.
“Schools across the country are being burdened with a surge of new non-English speaking children by Biden administration policies that virtually guarantee admission of unaccompanied foreign children,” Stein said.
Teacher Ada Reyes teaches students in a 5th grade class in dual language at the Carlos Santana Arts Academy in Los Angeles, California. Special English classes cost $78 billion a year nationwide
In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, so-called Limited English Tuition (LEP) for some 5.1 million public school K-12 students cost $78 billion. already a jump of $18.8 billion from the 2016 cost.
This includes 1.15 million students who need additional English tutoring in California, costing the state $19.5 billion, 1 million in Texas ($11.4 billion), and 278,000 in Florida (costing $3.1 billion).
According to the researchers, only 370,000 teachers nationwide are trained to teach them, and another 76,000 are needed over the next five years.
Worse still, the system is failing. Only about 3% of LEP students are fluent in English by the time they graduate from high school.
Immigration remains a divisive issue, with Americans evenly split between those who want to close borders, maintain current rates and allow more people in. Those in liberal-leaning cities like New York and Los Angeles are more open to newcomers.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said this week that the city “welcomes arriving migrants with open arms, providing food, medical care, housing and schools to those in need.” while noting an additional burden on local communities.
He called on the federal government to step in with new funding and “create a plan that reflects the best of American ideals,” including expediting work visas so immigrants can pay their own way faster.
Just under 200,000 immigrants were intercepted crossing the southern border in July, according to the latest figures from Customs and Border Protection. Many of them have the right to seek asylum and all children in the United States have the right to an education.
The increased demand for LEP teachers comes against a backdrop of a broader hiring crisis. Schools have struggled to recruit enough teachers in some areas, especially parts of the South, since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Areas such as special education and bilingual education are in dire need of teachers nationwide.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in public schools fell from nearly 8.1 million in March 2020 to 7.3 million in May. Employment has since rebounded somewhat, but schools are still short of some 360,000 positions.
Adult and child migrants walk after being detained by US border guards, after crossing into the United States from Mexico on their way to seek asylum, in El Paso, Texas this week
Dr. Ryan Fune, right, helps Julian Hinojosa, 8, center, with a writing assignment during his third grade class at Castro Elementary, a small bilingual school in Denver, Colorado, last month
FAIR’s analysis comes amid record numbers of migrants entering the United States, stoking fears of a border crisis and what many see as an ‘invasion’, even as others call for a human approach to people from broken countries in search of a better life.
Some 1.3 million undocumented foreigners have been allowed to cross the southern border since Biden took office in January 2021 and around 1 million had slipped through undetected, according to the group.
Customs and Border Protection officers made 21 arrests in the Rio Grande Valley on Monday and Tuesday after four smugglers’ vehicles were chased down and arrested after breaking fences and damaging ranch land, it said. the agency.
Vice President Kamala Harris, the administration’s immigration point person, said over the weekend that the US-Mexico border was “secure” despite the influx of millions of people, in comments widely criticized as inconsistent and disconnected.
She also criticized the administration of former President Donald Trump, an anti-immigration hardliner, saying the United States had a “broken” system for determining who could move to the United States and who “must yet to be corrected”.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, ferried hundreds of migrants to Democratic-run cities like Washington, DC, New York and now Chicago in a political ploy designed to show them how Texas feels.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey followed suit. This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a planeload of immigrants, mostly from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard, an island where such prominent liberals as the Obamas and Oprah Winfrey have homes.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser appealed for help from the National Guard to deal with the influx of migrants, calling the case a “humanitarian crisis”. New York City Mayor Eric Adams echoed that sentiment.
Adams on Thursday showcased a new welcome center for the thousands of migrants who have been bussed from the border into New York, as evidence of how the city is helping newcomers.
More than half of Americans say the situation on the southern border amounts to an “invasion,” while another third of respondents to an Ipsos poll last month expressed concern about being replaced by illegal immigrants.
An Ipsos poll last month showed more than half of Americans believe there is an ‘invasion’ while another third worry about being ‘replaced’ by illegal immigrants
Migrants detained by US border guards this week after entering the US from Mexico on their way to seek asylum, in El Paso, Texas