Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officers encountered roughly 2.5 million illegal aliens in the fiscal year that just ended September 30 — shattering the previous record of 1.7 million set last year. That number will only grow if one supposedly conservative group gets its way.
The well-financed State Freedom Caucus Network (SFCN), an offshoot of the congressional Freedom Caucus, deploys extensive resources to promote conservative values in state capitols across America. Recently, in Arizona, the group helped pass the “most expansive school choice legislation in recent memory,” in the words of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Riding high after that victory, SFCN boasted the Arizona law is “model legislation that we have every intention of passing in every state.”
SFCN recently began its nationwide push to duplicate that law in Georgia.
Three separate bills failed in the last session of the Georgia legislature that would have allowed school choice vouchers, worth thousands of dollars each, to go to illegal immigrants. Replacement measures have been promised that would burden Georgia taxpayers and attract even more illegal aliens. Georgia already has the 7th-highest population of illegal residents in the nation. A study by University of Wisconsin researchers found illegal immigrants consistently cite superior American schools as a key reason for remaining in the United States.
Lawmakers should tweak the legislation to ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t flow to illegal alien households.
Between 2017 and 2019, 575,000 children were encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border. By 2020, 321,000 of these children were enrolled in U.S. public schools. If state legislatures expand school choice vouchers at a cost of several thousand dollars per illegal alien student, taxpayers will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. And given the ongoing border surge, there is functionally no limit to how much taxpayers could be forced to cough up.
Incentivizing even more illegal immigration won’t just hurt students already struggling with overcrowded, understaffed schools. It would also have knock-on effects for workers across the country, who face increased competition and lower wages because of an influx of jobseekers. It is just Economics 101: Increase the supply of workers and wages fall.
Since September 2021, American families have seen prices rise by more than 8 percent. Many families are struggling to get by — and the combination of lower wages, higher rents, and increasingly crowded schools brought on by illegal immigration would only make their lives more difficult.
A simple fix is available. State lawmakers can and should insert airtight language that will prevent non-citizen lawbreakers from accessing these special funds — by requiring proof of U.S. citizenship or “Lawful Permanent Resident” status (green card holders).
No matter what voters think of school choice, it is ridiculous to force taxpayers to reward illegal aliens with tens of millions of dollars in free vouchers. There is certainly nothing “conservative” about incentivizing the worst border crisis in American history.