Representative Mike Ritze, an Oklahoma Republican, suggested a plan to turn over non-English speaking children to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Ritze claims this would be a good way of controlling Oklahoma’s budget.
Ritze asserts there are 82,000 non-English speaking children in Oklahoma and questioned the notion of the state being responsible for educating kids who are not citizens. However, there is a 1982 Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, which prohibits states from denying education to undocumented immigrants.
According to Associated Press, there are about 50,000 English learners but many of those students are citizens.
“Identify them and then turn them over to ICE to see if they truly are citizens — and do we really have to educate non-citizens?” Ritze asked.
Ritze says this proposal could save the state $60 million. But this received immediate backlash from the school officials and some of his colleagues.
“On this subject of deporting students, that is not a position that we support,” said Rep. Chuck Strohm. “This caught many of us by surprise, because that’s not the direction that we talked about,” he continued.
House Floor Leader Rep. Jon Echols also spoke out and called the proposal is a “bad idea,” saying “I have no desire to target (English as a second language) students.”