Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ABC News 7: Commissioner Demands Illegal Immigrant Count in Schools

A Frederick County commissioner wants to count how many illegal immigrants are in the schools, even though federal law requires counties to give all kids an education, so he's turning to the county's school-aged kids.

With 42,315 students in Frederick County schools, Commissioner John Thompson wants to know how many of them are legal residents of the United States. The school board president thinks it is a bad idea, but the commissioner is threatening to withhold some school funding until he gets an answer.

The proposal basically says, if you want to look at a community and understand illegal immigration, look at people's children. "Are they lawfully in the country, or are they not?"

Commissioner Thompson said he wants the schools to count how many students are illegal immigrants, hoping that information will help the county make future laws and influence federal immigration laws.

"The only way you're going to get reform in Washington is from the bottom up, grass roots up."

School Board President Daryl Boffman said the schools don't have that kind of information and he's worried what happens if the county commissioner gathers it. "Is he planning to take these kids out of the school system, go into the homes and deport the parents? What is he intending to do with that [information]?"

Immigrant Lucy Nobel said, "I don't know how they're going to go to schools and say are you legal here? I think it's unfair."

One parent said some kids at her first grader's school have classes in the hallway and the lunchroom. She thinks the commissioner has the right idea. "I think they need to do something because the schools are getting way too overcrowded," said parent Nicole Goodwin.

Commissioner Thompson said the school proposal is just one in a series meant to address illegal immigration. On Thursday, the county is scheduled to vote on whether English should be the official language.


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