ONTD Political

Proposal would require Missouri schools to verify students' immigration status

10:30 pm - 01/15/2012
Missouri could be the next battleground in a nationwide fight over tougher immigration laws.

State Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would mandate that all public schools verify the immigration status of enrollees. It also would require law enforcement officers to check immigration status on all stops when they have reasonable cause, and create a state misdemeanor for not carrying proper citizenship documentation.

The U.S. Department of Justice last year sued to block similar laws after they were passed in Alabama and Arizona. Federal judges have blocked implementation of parts of the laws in both states, with the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear arguments on Arizona’s law sometime this year.

Vanessa Crawford, executive director of Missouri Immigration and Refugee Advocates, said Kraus’ bill unfairly focuses on immigrants and their families and opens the state up to future litigation.

“This bill is a really bad idea,” Crawford said. “This would force police and school officials to act as immigration agents, and would result in innocent people facing harassment. And passing a law that will undoubtedly end up in court is irresponsible.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld its 1982 ruling that children have a right to attend public schools regardless of their immigration status.

But Kraus said his bill does nothing to challenge that notion. “This is simply an attempt to track noncitizens in public schools in order to get an accurate set of data,” he said.

The motivation for the bill, Kraus said, was his push last session to pass legislation forcing Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, to sue the federal government to recoup the cost of enforcing federal immigration laws.

“One of the objections we encountered was that there was no known cost to the state. Based on those comments, I asked my office to reach out to state agencies to find out who actually tracked the cost of illegal immigration on Missouri taxpayers,” Kraus said. “The results were underwhelming as we found most agencies have no idea of the true cost to taxpayers.”

Kraus’ bill would require that schools turn data collected over to the state Board of Education, which would compile and submit an annual report to the General Assembly. The report would contain information regarding immigration classifications of enrolled students and numbers of participants in English as a second language programs, as well as the cost to the state of their education.

The report also would attempt to analyze the impact of educating noncitizens on the quality of education provided to students who are citizens.

Even though schools would be required to ask new students for either a birth certificate or proof they are in the country legally, they would still able to attend school even if they or their parents are in the country illegally, Kraus said.

Public disclosure of information that identifies a student would be prohibited.

Critics, however, dismissed the bill as nothing more than a step toward revoking the rights of immigrant children to an education.

“This law will instill fear in immigrant families that will result in children being pulled out of school,” Crawford said.

After the Alabama law went into effect, schools reported higher absentee rates for Hispanic students. Airick Leonard West, board president of Kansas City Public Schools, said a similar reaction can be expected in Missouri.

“At a time when our district needs to gain the trust and cooperation of parents to increase our average daily attendance — one of the standards of accreditation — this bill sabotages that effort by creating a hostile and intimidating relationship between our district and its families,” West said.

As for the police provisions of the bill, Kraus said officers already check immigration status after arrests. His bill simply would extend that to include all stops, he argued. And the new state misdemeanor simply mirrors federal law.

“None of these proposed items have any significant punitive provision above what is already in current federal law,” Kraus said.

So far, the bill — S.B. 590 — has not been scheduled for a hearing. Kraus said he plans to discuss it with Republican leadership in the hopes of making the legislation a priority this session. He also expected any legal challenges to similar laws around the country to be finalized before any Missouri law would go into effect.

Groups opposing the measure, however, hope to derail it before it gains traction. Crawford points to efforts her organization launched during the last session that helped kill a bill requiring driver’s license tests to be administered only in English, and eliminated versions currently offered in 11 other languages.


Local news story about the bill and the fight against it:

thepuddingcook 16th-Jan-2012 04:50 am (UTC)
Will there ever be an end to the amount of states I can visit. JFC.
thepuddingcook 16th-Jan-2012 04:50 am (UTC)
salienne 16th-Jan-2012 05:12 am (UTC)
Because children the US doesn't like totally don't deserve an education!

Could these laws be any more racist or sickening?

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld its 1982 ruling that children have a right to attend public schools regardless of their immigration status.

But Kraus said his bill does nothing to challenge that notion. “This is simply an attempt to track noncitizens in public schools in order to get an accurate set of data,” he said.

13chapters 16th-Jan-2012 05:55 am (UTC)
This totally sounds constitutional.
kaowolfie 16th-Jan-2012 06:03 am (UTC)
I fucking hate this state. Of course dipshit doesn't think this is racist or nothing. Just like it's not racist when people think nothing of ranting about "those damn Mexicans" wherever I go in the state capitol. I hate this fucking state!

Edited at 2012-01-16 06:04 am (UTC)
saoru 16th-Jan-2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
as a fellow Missourian, +1.
emeraldus 16th-Jan-2012 06:19 am (UTC)
What gets me is they keep trying to insist it's not racist. Especially the traffic stops. If a police officer is specifically stopping someone to check on their legal status, then how is that officer determining who to stop? By the color of their skin. I doubt very much they stop many white skinned people on the off chance one might be a European here on an expired visa.
farchivist 17th-Jan-2012 12:03 am (UTC)
Pretty much this. Alabama did stop a European once. Rumor currently is that Mercedes is thinking of just closing up shop and moving its factory elsewhere. The unintended consequences of their immigration law has Alabama a bit worried.
lonely_hour 16th-Jan-2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
ya, education is never a good meant for all people.$$$$
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robertsloan2 16th-Jan-2012 12:24 pm (UTC)
Oh and in addition to that, the elderly, especially elderly minorities, the disabled, the poor are now burdened with the need to get these documents even if they weren't issued at birth or they don't have the money. Misdemeanor arrest, with jail time if you can't afford a fine because you can't afford ID. Oh yeah. Brilliant bloody law. It'll step on more than Hispanics. It'll step on everyone the red states want to keep from voting in 2012. This is among other things an all-out war on the poor.

Think of the number of stops for "vagrancy" (walking home) or just not looking right, with this as a sweep law to take them in if they don't have the proper documents on them at all times. Swell the jails with old and poor people, especially anyone minority. It makes me sick.
decuvieri 16th-Jan-2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I wonder how often my young (white) siblings will be asked for proof of their citizenship at the bust stop as opposed to their Latino friends.
hohaiyee 16th-Jan-2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
I want to see State Sen. Will Kraus's birth certificate.s

...and what about his parent's birth certificates? Is the senator an anchor baby?

I want to see if his driver's license is up to date.

Is he even the legal owner of his car? Show us the docs!

I want to see if the height of his lawn yields to all applicable by-laws.

I want to see his marriage license.

I want to see the documents he filed to run in the elections he ran in, maybe he's not really a legit Senator!

I want to see his fund records, because our senators need to be corruption free.

Ask him:
imnotbob 16th-Jan-2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
For Republicans this is a double win, not only do they get to harass Hispanics but they create more work
(and use up more resources) for public schools.
ceilidh 16th-Jan-2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
Either teachers will have to do it ( which is so wrong, students should not feel like their teachers are out to get them and teachers should not be in the position of spying on students) or an administrator will have to be hired just to do this *awaits chorus of OMG LOOK AT ALL THESE USELESS ADMINISTRATORS THEY SHOULD BE CUT*
tabaqui 16th-Jan-2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
And my state just keeps pressing the 'fail' button. I commented on this at Huffingtonpost and omg, the vitrol and the hate. Horrifying.

I really think that 'illegals' are the *least* of our fucking problems, here and all over the country. Jayzus.

Sent the jackass a message from the website, but gods know he won't care. I hope there is vigorous opposition to this, but sadly, too many of my fellow Missourians are ignorant and racist.

Edited at 2012-01-16 08:35 pm (UTC)
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