Education officials from New York State are alarmed by the strain of the growing number of students who lack basic English language skills to the state’s school systems. Most non- or limited-English proficient students in the state are foreign born or children of legal immigrants or illegal aliens. The drain on schools by English language learners has been exacerbated by the surge of unaccompanied minors and family units from Central America, which began in 2012. The surge is largely a result of the Obama Administration’s lax enforcement policies, most notably including President Obama’s deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program. DACA provides illegal aliens with a temporary deferment of deportation and work authorization if they show that they entered the United States before the age of sixteen, as well as other requirements.
Education officials from New York report that the population of students with limited English skills has grown by at least 39,000 since 2008. This increase is larger than the total number of students enrolled in Buffalo schools, the state’s second-largest school district. Educators also emphasize the complexity of teaching English as a second language to New York’s diverse population, and estimate that students in New York schools speak over 200 different languages, including indigenous dialects from Central America that do not have written components. In Buffalo alone, schools that received refugees provide services to students that speak approximately 85 languages.
Illegal immigration, mass legal immigration, and increasing numbers of refugees resettled into the United States have created tremendous pressure on public school’s budgets and abilities to provide its students with standard educations. The New York State United Teachers union estimates that the language services alone will require an additional $200 million dollars in the upcoming budget.
New York is just one of many states forced to undertake this massive burden imposed by the federal government. In September, FAIR released a report analyzing the impact of mass immigration on public schools. The report estimates that limited English-Proficient students cost taxpayers approximately $59.2 billion annually. Almost the entirety of this cost, 98.9 percent, is borne by taxpayers at the state and local level.