Bill would require documentation of students

1/29/2014

TOPEKA (AP) — A Kansas legislator wants the state to count and report the number of children in public schools who might be living in the country illegally.

TOPEKA (AP) — A Kansas legislator wants the state to count and report the number of children in public schools who might be living in the country illegally.

Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, a Republican from Grandview Plaza, introduced a bill on Tuesday that he said would help determine how much taxpayer money is spent to educate children who are not lawfully living in the country.

"I would prefer we spend tax dollars on citizens and not on illegal aliens," he said.

The bill would require a school board to ask for "proof of lawful presence" when a child enrolls for the first time in a public school. The proof would be a birth certificate, Social Security card or other document.

The State Department of Education would gather the information and publish a record of the number of children who didn't provide the proof, and the average per pupil school finance cost.

Rothlisberg said a child who didn't have the proper documentation would not be barred from enrolling in school and no child would be publicly identified.

The executive director of the Sunflower Community Action, which works on immigration and education issues, criticized the bill.

"This is no more than another attempt at intimidation and harassment," Sulma Arias said. "This time, these acts of cowardice are directed at our children. In a state like ours, which is proud of our immigrant history, we should keep in mind the outstanding contributions that immigrant students who have attended Kansas public schools have made and continue to make to our state."

Alabama enacted a similar law in 2011, but it was blocked by a federal appeals court.

A 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling grants the children of people who are living in the U.S. illegally a free public education.

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