Thursday, October 22, 2009

Proposal would count illegal immigrants

Proposal would count illegal immigrants

Originally published October 22, 2009

The Frederick News-Post [photo is Charles Jenkins]

The contentious subject of illegal immigration and how to tackle its effects on a local level has not stayed for long off the minds of county commissioners.

On Tuesday, Commissioners Charles Jenkins and John L. Thompson Jr. and Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins introduced a plan to force the FrederickCounty Board of Education to provide commissioners with a count of students whose legal presence in the country cannot be reasonably determined.
The plan was among several under consideration to be introduced in the county's 2010 state legislative package.

If approved by the full board of commissioners next week, the proposal will go to the county delegation of state lawmakers for approval.
Successful proposals will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly during the 90-day regular session that convenes in January.

In October 2008, county commissioners voted to ask whether a local school system could collect data "to support the proposition that a student is lawfully present in the United States."

In March, the state board of education ruled in part that unless the school system has a valid reason, officials cannot seek immigration status of students.

Commissioner Jenkins said the school system receives more than half the county's budget and so is an important area to understand the cost of undocumented students.

"We've got to start somewhere," he said.

Jenkins said he did not think collecting the information would be a burden on school officials, or an unfunded mandate.

"Until we stop making this an attractive place where everybody who gets rewarded for breaking into our country É it starts at the local level," he said.

Gary Brennan, president of the Frederick County Teachers Association, spoke out against the proposal at the commissioners' meeting.

"In effect, this proposal would force the Board of Education into an administrative role for which it is entirely unequipped," he said.

Brennan thinks federal agencies designed and trained to determine immigration status should be the ones to do so.

"This is a poorly developed and unfunded mandate that will provide data with no clear benefit or application," he said.

He also said the proposal could have a chilling effect on some students and families who may become concerned about attending school.

"Public schools have a legal and moral obligation to educate any students who come through their doors," he said.

Thompson said that, for the most part, the proposal would not ask students or their parents for more information than the school system already does.
The idea, he said, is not to determine who is in the country legally or illegally, who is a citizen and who is not.

The proposal has nothing to do with who gets educated or not, he said.
Instead, the plan is to get a rough count of people whose legal presence can't reasonably be determined, and then to give the number to federal officials.

"The more opposition I hear from people, the more concern I have that the number's a lot higher than we think," he said.

Frederick County delegation Chairman Paul Stull said it was too early in the process to determine how the delegation may vote on such a proposal.

He said he has been approached by some citizens who expressed their concerns about how many tax dollars are going to educate illegal immigrants.

Staff writer Meg Tully contributed to this article.


[my commentary on this subject is: still valid today!

--Steve Berryman. ]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, please provide proof that all your forebearers came here legally and did not steal land from the original residents of the land now called dearbought. Did your family manage to sneak in before there were laws keeping them out?

6:58 PM, October 28, 2009  

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