Reports that Hispanic children are leaving Tulsa Public Schools indicates that Oklahoma’s tough new immigration law is working, according to the law’s authors.
“The whole purpose of the law was to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in Oklahoma because it is costing taxpayers a lot of money to educate them,” said Sen. James Williamson, R-Tulsa, the measure’s Senate author.
“Obviously, those same people are the ones that will no longer be lining up in the emergency rooms,” Williamson said. “If we are reducing the cost, a lot of my constituents will not be upset by that.”
The bill’s House author, Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, said officials estimate that illegal immigrants are costing the state about $200 million annually in increased education, health, welfare and corrections costs.
Terrill said the intent of House Bill 1804, which has key provisions that will take effect Nov. 1, was to ferret out those living here illegally and relying on state services.
“Obviously, if we are talking about people who are not here legally under immigration laws, then the law is having its exact intended effect,” Terrill said.
“Certainly, I have heard the chatter that there are people particularly in northeastern Oklahoma and the Panhandle who are leaving, but we don’t have any real evidence,” added Terrill, R-Moore.
Oklahoma’s Hispanic population in the schools has been increasing yearly, state Superintendent Sandy Garrett said. Guymon, in the Panhandle, now has 62 percent Hispanic enrollment, she said, while Hispanic public school enrollment throughout the state has grown to nearly 10 percent.
Figures on this fall’s enrollment in state schools will not be available until Oct. 1, Garrett said.
Kendall-Whittier Elementary School Principal Judy Feary said the school is hearing that many Hispanics are planning to leave in October, before the law takes effect.
Tulsa Public Schools officials say they suspect that Hispanic students are leaving Oklahoma and going to states such as Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and California, in addition to returning to Mexico.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
– Associated Press
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