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Not cheap

Folks who favor amnesty for illegal immigrants aren’t bashful about labeling as ignorant racists those who support the enforcement of existing law. Marginalization helps them avoid actual policy discussions.

Enter a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which aims to show the burdens placed on public school systems by illegal immigrants and their children. The study, to be released soon, contains some startling figures and reasonable conclusions on topics the pro-amensty crowd doesn’t want debated. Among its key conclusions:

— Teaching children with limited English proficiency costs the state of Nevada $722 million per year.

— The standardized test score achievement gap between students who are proficient in English and those who aren’t is 12.1 percentage points in math, 30 points in reading, 53.5 points in science and 55.2 percentage points in writing.

— The diversion of funding and instruction time toward English language learners — many of whom are illegals or the children of illegals — comes at the expense of the education of the general student population.

— Nevada’s poor national rankings in student achievement are due in large part to the presence of so many non-English speakers in the state’s classrooms. According to the state, there were 71,000 limited English proficiency students enrolled last school year.

As always, however, amnesty backers attack the messenger. Because FAIR makes no secret that it opposes illegal immigration, the hyperliberal Southern Poverty Law Center has called the organization a “hate group.” That’s ridiculous.

Nevada Superintendent of Instruction Keith Rheault said he agreed with the FAIR report’s conclusions, saying he has raised the concerns in meetings. But overall, school officials claim that the issue is beyond their control, that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires them to admit children regardless of their citizenship and immigration status.

Illegal immigration has huge fiscal and social costs in Southern Nevada. The voting public needs information on these effects to shape their own decisions. In this regard, FAIR’s study is a welcome addition to the debate.

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