Undocumented students in D.C. cost taxpayers millions


UNDOCUMENTED: Educating illegal immigrants cost D.C. taxpayers millions.

By Moriah Costa | Watchdog.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.- It costs an estimated $86,775,555 million a year to educate undocumented students in D.C., based on a data analysis by Watchdog.org.

There are about 4,065 undocumented children in D.C., according to 2012 data from the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project. With D.C. spending $21,347 per student, the total amount spent on undocumented children comes to over $86 million a year.

Others estimate it costs even more to educate students in the U.S. illegally because of Limited English Proficiency classes and free and reduced lunch programs.

One advocacy group opposed to illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), estimates that D.C. pays $186 million a year to education undocumented students.

Bob Dane, a spokesperson for FAIR, said this number will increase by $7.4 million due to the influx of over 50,000 unaccompanied children that crossed the border earlier this year.

“This is an unfunded mandate,” he said. “It was unbudgeted, and they were transferred at the very last minute…The illegal immigrants were not on the curriculum this year.”

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler vs. Doe, states are required to provide undocumented students a public education.

Nationally, FAIR estimates that it costs about $52 billion to educate children who are in the U.S. illegally.

“[Obama’s] lack of enforcement and unwillingness to secure the border is hindering any meaningful progress we’ve had towards reforming our education system,” Dane said.

I determined the amount of money taxpayers pay using Pew Research data to estimate the amount of students that are undocumented in D.C. According to Pew, about 4.9 percent of students are undocumented or from undocumented families. Using the most recent enrollment numbers for public and charter schools in D.C., which is 82,958, I was able to determine the current undocumented student population to be about 4,065. I then multiplied that number by how much D.C. pays per pupil, which was $21,347 in 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.