Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Groups spar over count of illegal immigrants in schools




Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011

Groups spar over count of illegal immigrants in schools

Casa of Maryland, Help Save Maryland take opposite stands on Brinkley's measure

by Sherry Greenfield Staff Writer ( Frederick Edition

Two groups on opposing sides of illegal immigration are lining up over a proposal that a state lawmaker from Frederick County intends to introduce to force Maryland counties to count the number of illegal immigrants enrolled in public schools.

Casa of Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group based in Silver Spring, said this week it will testify against the bill to be submitted by Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market.

"Supporting unconstitutional legislation that specifically targets small children does not seem the best route to solving our immigration crisis," said Kim Propeack, political director of Casa of Maryland, in an e-mail.

Propeack said Casa watches with worry over this type of legislation coming from lawmakers in Frederick County. "Imagine how people will respond when the authorities are specifically targeting their little children," she said.

Meanwhile, Help Save Maryland, an anti-illegal immigration group, contends that Brinkley's bill is needed to recoup the expense of educating illegal immigrants.

"It's an unfunded mandate forced upon Maryland," said Steven R. Berryman, the Frederick coordinator for Help Save Maryland. "There is nothing wrong with this bill. The fact is there was not a choice for Maryland but to accept the mandate."

According to Brinkley's office, in fiscal 2009, the most recent numbers available, it cost $13,959 to educate a student in Maryland. The figure comes from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services' handbook.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1982 Plyler v. Doe case that state and local governments must educate all students regardless of immigration status. In that case, a Texas statue that denied free public education to illegal immigrants was found to have violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Since the federal government forces states to educate illegal immigrants, it should pay the cost, Berryman argued.

Once introduced, Brinkley expects the bill to be assigned to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Brinkley said Tuesday he is not surprised Casa will testify against the legislation.

"I would expect them to fight this," he said. "Of course they will."

Brinkley said it is a contradiction for Casa to support a proposed bill allowing children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition to public colleges and universities, since those children must be identified.

Under his proposal, no student of an illegal immigrant would be identified.
"We're not looking for that," he said. "It's just a count."

Propeack disagreed. "They are completely independent," she said in an e-mail. "There is a constitutional right to [K-12] education, not higher education."

Brinkley said he decided to submit his own bill after the Frederick delegation voted last month to submit a similar bill that would apply to Frederick County only. He wanted the count to be taken statewide.

Both Brinkley and Berryman predict lawmakers will view the legislation as hostile, so it will fail.

Brinkley said this is not unusual, since a majority of the bills proposed by lawmakers are never passed into law. However, it does not stop lawmakers from introducing legislation they deem important, regardless of the outcome.

Brinkley also cited a Jan. 6, 2009, letter to Del. Galen Clagett (D-Dist. 3A) of Frederick from Dan Friedman, of the Office of the Attorney General and counsel to the General Assembly. Friedman said the legislation could violate the 14th Amendment, which in part guarantees people equal protection of the law. That was the argument used in Plyler v. Doe, which resulted in governments not being allowed to deny illegal immigrants a free public education.

In 2008 and 2009, when the previous board of county commissioners proposed the legislation, Clagett contacted Friedman's office for the opinion.

"Because of the opinion they [state lawmakers] feel it might be unconstitutional," Brinkley said. "They may be right and they may be wrong."


Anonymous Report Illegal Aliens said...

Illegal aliens have no right to be on campus period.

4:53 AM, April 13, 2011  

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