Silent Crisis: The Adverse Impact of Illegal Immigration on America’s Schools

classroom_foto_flickrIn Boston, high school students recently walked out of school to protest budget cuts. In Lexington, Nebraska, school officials lowered graduation standards to accommodate an influx of immigrant students with limited English fluency. And, in a suburb of Washington, D.C., the NAACP threatened to sue the school district over plans to create facilities for newcomers with limited English proficiency.

These events portend the changes that are coming to our overburdened public school systems across large parts of the country. The impact of legal and illegal immigration will have profound effects on our schools and society.

Students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) are the fastest-growing segment of the public school population and few districts are prepared for them. Missouri, for example, will need to hire 912 new certified LEP teachers in the next five years – if they can be found – at a cost of more than $43 million. The taxpayers of California must come up with almost $1.2 billion to hire more than 17,000 certified LEP teachers over the next five years.

These issues will continue to fester, since schools are beginning to absorb 127,000 unaccompanied alien minors (UAM) that crossed the border since 2014 (and those are just the ones the Border Patrol apprehended). The federal government sent 1,888 UAMs to Prince George’s County, Maryland, 704 to Boston and 208 to Omaha.

Beyond the traditional immigrant magnets, districts in the heartland are confronting the issue of serving a population with limited skills. Lexington, Nebraska has “experienced a large increase in student enrollment, which was not anticipated,” according to officials there. From a budget of $68 million in 2011, expenditures for 2014 rose to almost $81.5 million.

Omaha’s Westside school district faces a $5.4 million shortfall this year and projects teacher layoffs will be necessary next year to reduce the deficit. Despite this, the district still plans to hire a new ELL teacher. Statewide, it will cost almost $4 million to hire the necessary teachers Nebraska schools will need to serve this population in the next five years.

In Boston, almost one out of every three students in the public schools is an English Language Learner. The cost to educate these students rose from $9.1 million in 2014 to $13.6 million in 2015 despite a drop of 775 ELL students, suggesting that the schools are overwhelmed and cannot properly manage the costs associated with this needy population.

The influx of immigrants hurts African-American students the most. By all indicators, black students are performing poorly, but resources are being diverted from them to help new immigrants, including those here illegally. When Prince George’s County, Maryland, proposed building a school and converting part of another facility to cater to ELL students, the NAACP blustered about initiating a lawsuit, but has since backed off.

As school districts scramble to serve LEP students, there will be winners and losers. LEP teachers win. Students and society lose. LEP pupils are progressing slowly and the achievement level of all students in every subject is low. The next installment of this blog will detail student achievement levels and break down the staggering potential cost of hiring ELL teachers to serve this burgeoning population. Thanks in part to the open borders crowd, the future looks bleak.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    I teach in a public school overwhelmed by illegal immigration. Did you know they all get free school supplies? All free lunch? Free . Free. Free. For them-not citizens. They hog a TON of our resources and staff. Their educational culture is abysmal. Many have no or little prior schooling and yet teachers are measured by how well they perform on standardized tests after one year here! It is insane! I am sick of seeing the illegal population totally ruin school districts here.

    • avatar

      Did you also know that citizens must show blue health slips that verify health immunizations but illegals do not? The schools can request it but if they don’t get shots, they still get to sit in schools.

  2. avatar

    Not only hurting our schools but our most vulnerable citizens as well. Washington made cuts to medicare & Medicaid and told each state to make cuts to the mentally disabled. I live in Ohio and our state was one of the last to do so. We had good programs for our children and adults who need help along with families who take care of them. All programs are being cut, state run beautiful facilities are being closed and the people being forced to nursing homes and other places to try and find help for them. Now the buses are being taken off the routes to sheltered workshops and they to will close and everything will be privatized and changes that will be hard for everyone involved to deal with. Bottom line – Our federal government can take care of all these people coming over the borders and taking in refugees and the people who were born here and did not ask to be born this way are being left out in the cold and it is such a disaster for them and the families. The illegals coming into our country think they deserve everything and demand and do not care if they use English and that makes me sick. They all need to be sent back to their countries so we can have ours back.

    • avatar

      So True Lora

      I’ve watched Medicaid go from dental and most medical coverage to essentially no reliable coverage since Obamacare gutted it for America’s disabled.

  3. avatar

    What is going on in our Country, for years now, is appalling!
    I have been fighting this since 2005 it is getting worse.

    Our citizens are being stabbed in the back every way, lost jobs to illegals, legal immigrants and visa workers, plus refugees. We allow 1 million on top of this to be Naturalized..each year!

    The invasion has caused our kids to be shoved out of the way while schools give more attention to foreigners
    There are several web sites that report their crimes committed upon our
    Citizens. Search victims of illegal alien crime.

    We have too many people and too few jobs!

    Join us on numbersusa dot com and fax free to our
    Elite politicians.

  4. avatar

    The l4th Amendment allows women who come over to have a child who will be an instant Americn citizen, must be changed. It should allow such citizenship only IF one parent is an American citizen and has valid proof of citizenship.This would drastically cut down the numbers of anchor babies, as most of the women are not married.
    Most have never worked here or paid taxes, have little money and do not speak English. Amendments can be changed if enough members of Congress will agree to it. We do have the power to influence them to do the right things, if we use it.

    • avatar

      The original Supreme Court decision in 1898 in the case of Wong Kim Ark that said he was a citizen, based it’s reasoning in the final paragraphs of the decision on the fact that his parents were long time legal residents and business owners in California. One has to assume by them making a point of saying so, that they regarded a long time residency here as a integral part of their child being a citizen. Surely they did not mean for someone to be a citizen based on the fact that their parents did not have an established residence here, and they surely could not have meant for a child to be a citizen by the parent’s illegal presence here.

      • avatar

        The final paragraph in the Wong Kim Ark decision granting him citizenship specifically noted that his parents “have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business,” So for all those who want to say that merely giving birth here makes the child a citizen, it’s their burden to explain why the court rested their decision on that declaration. How does that square with “birth tourism” or breaking the laws of the country by illegal presence here?

        • avatar

          Children of foreign diplomats born in the United States are not citizens. The clause ” and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” wasn’t put into the amendment to make it sound nice. Every time you hear of a Mexican national going to be executed, you hear the Mexican government bemoan the execution of one of its citizens. These illegal aliens are Mexican citizens thus disqualifying them from plopping out U.S. citizens.
          The supreme court has not yet rendered a decision on “anchor babies”. Ireland ended the practice. Ireland had many cases of African freeloaders arriving less than 48 hours of an impending birth.

          Here is some background on the 14th amendment:

          • avatar

            It’s kind of ironic that Ireland wants us to give amnesty to those of their citizens living here illegally, because, as you say, they had a national referendum in 2004 that banned birthright citizenship by a vote of 80%, unless the parents had been in the country a number of years. Things are totally different from a hundred years ago when coming here was a long trip on a ship, and once you got here there were no welfare programs for anchor babies. It was very difficult for many. Those who romanticize our immigration past are the ones not dealing in reality.

    • avatar

      Let’s Look at History

      When baby boomers went to school, the numbers compare to today…..the amount of teaching staff was HALF of what it is today. Almost everyone graduated and math and science were adequate too. There were study halls then to get students past high school. We had HOPE back then.

      Today’s students live in a GRIM jobless future….no wonder more teachers aren’t helping, the kids’ today lack HOPE and I don’t blame them at all.

  5. avatar

    Very true. More black Americans need to wake up to how much mass immigration is hurting them. Some have, but a majority haven’t. All politicians like Hillary care about is getting their votes.

    • avatar

      SecBorders again you need to think why?……cuts because of pensions? or mismanaging the assets of a State or town…..also without this immigrants they would still be performing poorly not just them and all across…our schools are getting worse buy the year……

      • avatar

        Talk about spin. All these school districts are spending many millions on trying to teach immigrant children in 2 languages. You can try and deflect from that, but it’s a fact. If the districts did not have all these students, they would not have to spend that money. You think Mexico or any other Latin American country would put up with this?

        The reason they hate Trump so much is that they know he’s not going to kowtow to them like most of our other politicians do. Just because you’re a sucker for the contention that we owe it to Latin America to educate their people at a huge cost to us doesn’t mean all of us think so.

  6. avatar

    Interesting that the NAACP threatened to sue about diversion of funds to Limited English Proficiency students, funds that could have been spent to help blacks. When are the majority of blacks going to figure out that no one is getting hurt worse by the continuing influx of poor undereducated illegals, whether it’s competition for jobs, social programs, housing, education and a host of other issues. Yet blacks continue to listen to the likes of Hillary, Bernie and Al Sharpton, who are pushing for even more illegal entry. And they are indeed pushing for it, because they say we won’t deport you if you are here without permission.

    • avatar

      It could be due to the huge numbers of Caribbean students that have arrived. I worked in New York and the Haitian community is quite large. Interestingly these illegals get free college because they are black. I worked with a Jamaican who got a free ride through college. The company that I worked for could not send him to the Netherlands because of his immigration status.

      The black community didn’t let out a whimper when the government increased the H-2 visas earlier this year and that directly adversely affected the black community.