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The Debate about Immigrant Students Attending School

Kristi Harris, Hard News Editor

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Yucaipa-Mesa Joint Unified School District is a district split by San Bernardino and Riverside counties in California. The voters among this district may soon be able to decide a student’s ability to attend school based on their U.S. citizenship status. Meaning, students that were not born in the U.S. are prohibited to attend k-12 public schools and can be charged for “nonresident” tuition.

One month ago, Joseph Turner, a former San Bernardino resident and a supporter of Donald Trump’s views on immigrants, formed a group called American Children First. The group is working towards removing individuals who are undocumented, have an expired visa, and/or do not have citizenship from public schools. He has sent out a petition of his ballot saying, “We will no longer take care of those who have broken our laws and seek to prosper at the expense of our children.” To qualify for the ballot, his group will have to collect over 3,000 signatures. However, he was not successful with his similar organization in the past.

In 2004, he founded a similar organization called Save our State, authorizing the “City of San Bernardino Illegal Immigration Relief Act.” This would have prevented those who do not have citizenship from renting a viable living environment. He was not able to go through with this because he did not have enough support from the people in his city.

Turner says, “I think we have a lot of fake Americans in Sacramento that say they are for educating all children but what that really means is they’re for compromising the education that American citizens receive so we can pay for illegal aliens.” Cali Binks, superintendent of the Yucaipa-Mesa district, completely disagrees with him. She does not believe that the school board will change their policy on who attends their schools. “We have a very tight-knit community,” Binks says, “and we care for everybody.”

Not only is the school district supporting the children’s education, but Republicans in Tennessee are as well. They are fighting to offer in-state tuition to those who were brought into the U.S. illegally with their parents. “I’m all for building the wall and U.S. sovereignty, closing our borders,” said Rep. Mark White, a Memphis Republican and a bill sponsor. “But we didn’t, and now we’re damaging innocent people.” During the previous administration, the proposal passed in Senate and was one vote away from passing in the House. There is a good chance of that happening again. “We need to do what’s the next best thing,” White says, “and that’s help them assimilate into our society.”

These bills are intending to help the children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. They want to help individuals that face challenges not everyone else does. This also benefits the state by boosting the economy. These individuals are not getting free tuition, rather, they are getting in-state tuition. Giving them a discount is better than not allowing them in school at all and causing the schools to make less money. This results in a good investment for the state.

If the lawmakers of Tennessee succeed, they will become the second local government, the first of which was Washington D.C., to pass this law since Trump became president. Prior to his election, twenty other states had been authorized to allow in-state tuition to those individuals who were not born in the U.S. The Tennessee legislation would only apply to those who are qualified. The requirements are; they have attended a state school or homeschool program for two years, graduated from high school in this state, and signed a document stating that they have applied for citizenship or plan to. If the bill does pass, the students would not qualify for federal financial aid or be able to receive free tuition from any program. Sen. Todd Gardenhire says that Tennessee has already made an investment by paying for students K-12 education and by prohibiting undocumented students, the school’s finances will be brought down.



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12 Responses to “The Debate about Immigrant Students Attending School”

  1. Julius on May 24th, 2017 1:39 pm

    I can’t believe that people are against innocent children not being able to get good education. Even if these kids aren’t from the U.S. that doesn’t mean thy aren’t the future of it. Well done you have some great sources.


  2. Nick Budd on May 24th, 2017 1:42 pm

    I am very glad that Turner was unsuccessful in his petition. I think kids from other countries really struggle and could use help in the American education system.


  3. Marlene Camba on May 24th, 2017 1:55 pm

    The group called American Children first formed by Joseph Turner, a supporter of Donald Trump`s view on immigrants is working towards removing individuals who are undocumented, have an expired visa, and or do not have citizenship from public schools. I believe that everybody should be treated equally no matter the race. He believes that Immigrants “broke the law and they shouldn`t be supported”, but the truth is that Immigrants came to the United States for a better future for them and their children’s. Being able to attend a school shouldn`t be any different for anybody and everybody should be able to attend a school with the same rights. I am glad that others think the same as me and are trying to help Immigrant students attend school with no problem.


    adviser Reply:

    Well said!


  4. Sebastian on May 24th, 2017 2:10 pm

    I wounder why Turner thinks this way, he want’s innocent children to not have a education and was planning on have people with no citizenship to have no place to live. I am glad that they non of his bills have passed. I like how you covered this story.


  5. Ashley Vargas on May 24th, 2017 2:27 pm

    It’s crazy that someone would actually be against educating the future generations of America. Even if those kids weren’t born in the US, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to be a part of the community and grow as an individual.


  6. Dennise velazco on May 24th, 2017 2:30 pm

    I believe that it’s not fair to put a price on education. No matter if you were born here or your an immigrant. Having a higher education to an immigrant can mean the whole world to them. Because they know that so many people are counting on them, their parents, grandparents, and friends. Everyone deserves a chance to better themselves and their families.


  7. Dyllan Recinos on May 25th, 2017 8:28 am

    I do not know why Joseph Turner would want public schools to stop teaching Immigrants its not like they are ruining the schools. If anything these kids are going to school like any other American kid and learning the same things.


  8. maria garcia on May 25th, 2017 8:33 am

    I personally think that being an immigrant or not shouldn’t determine if you’re able to attend school or not. Parents bring their families and children to have a better future for themselves. If what they’re doing is beneficial for them and their future I see no problem of being an immigrant attending school when all they want is something good at the end.


  9. Alyssa on May 25th, 2017 8:42 am

    I strongly disagree with this article because for so long the world has been fighting against segregation and the law of Equal Rights. How are we the people gonna vote for a president that may put the world back in jeopardy.


  10. Stephen liddle on May 25th, 2017 8:47 am

    I think it’s dumb to not allow education to innocent people. America out of all places should allow education to all. I hope all of this is short lived.


  11. Kayla Lien on May 30th, 2017 12:10 pm

    It’s ridiculous that people think penalizing children is the answer. In fact, we don’t need an answer! Overcrowding and lack of funds may be a problem, but there’s always other schools kids can go to.


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The Debate about Immigrant Students Attending School