A new era of McCarthyism is looming over our heads.
Texas state legislature is on the verge of passing a slew of anti-immigrant bills that make Arizona look tame in comparison. The most heinous one is HB-22. Proposed by Debbie 'McCarthy" Riddle, the legislation would mandate K-12 schools in Texas to collect and report the immigration status of all students.
This is an unfunded mandate with only one central purpose: create and sustain a climate of fear by maintaining a registry of young undocumented students. HB/SB 22 is unlikely to save school districts any money since they cannot expell any students based on their immigration status. On the other hand, the additional staff hours and forms required to collect such information will be a costly endeavor.
Additionally, parent-teacher/school relationships are likely to deteriorate when school administrators start asking parents for their papers. As the Houston Chroncile states, "demanding proof of a child’s citizenship doesn’t inspire warm, fuzzy feelings about joining the PTO."
Immigration reform is critical. But the job of a school is to educate and not adjudicate such matters.
We need to tell Texas state legislators to come out firing against this bill.
Photo Credit: Doctor Noe
I'm writing to show my disappointment at the introduction of HB/SB 22 and to urge you to voice your opposition to the bill.
For starters, there's no real reason to pinpoint the exact number of undocumented kids in Texas schools. HB / SB 22 would not save the state or its school districts money by forcing the schools to kick out undocumented students. A 1982 Supreme Court ruling requires American school districts to educate, for free, all kids who live inside their boundaries, regardless of immigration status - a practice that's not just humane, but also has major long-term benefits for the state. Educated young people are a valuable work force. Uneducated ones are more likely to become criminals or teen parents.
In fact, rather than saving Texas schools money, HB 22 would force them to pay for the extra staff hours needed to deal with an onslaught of new forms. In the upcoming lean years, finding that time, with staffs already cut to the bone, will be painful.
The worst effect would be the one the bill would have on schools' relationships with students' parents. If parental involvement matters to students' academic success - and almost everyone agrees that it does - then it's a terrible idea to make our schools look like suspicious enforcement agencies. Demanding proof of a child's citizenship doesn't inspire warm, fuzzy feelings about joining the PTO.
School officials are not federal immigration officials. They are educators. Instead of targeting young students and creating divisiveness in Texas schools with bills like SB/HB 22, we should be working together to ensure that no child is left behind.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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