Report Shows Cost Of Educating Immigrant Population

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 65 views 

Arkansas spends about $460 million a year to educate its rising number of immigrant children, according to a report released Wednesday by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

According to “A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas,” public education is the largest state expenditure dealing with immigrants, far outpacing health care and corrections.

The state spent $555 million on services to immigrants and their children in 2010, while immigrants and the economic activity they generated resulted in $524 million in taxes.

While that is a $31 million deficit, the report estimated the total economic impact of immigrants to be $4.3 billion that year.

The state spent $4.3 billion, not counting federal transfers, educating children of all ethnicities in 2009-10.  Latinos made up about 10 percent of Arkansas public school students, or 47,600, in 2010-11.

“For our K–12 educational cost estimates, we assumed that the percentage of expenditures attributable to immigrants’ children was proportional to their representation in the student population,” the report states.

The number of Latino children in Arkansas increased by 38,000 from 2000 to 2010. Because most immigrants come to America as adults, 82 percent of the children of immigrants were born here and are U.S. citizens. The number of white children decreased from 77 percent to 68 percent of the population during that time period, while the percentage of African American children remained at 20 percent.

Language barriers represent one of the challenges of educating the rising number of immigrants. The number of limited English proficiency students in Arkansas schools increased from 15,900 to 33,100 from 2003-04, while their percentage of the population rose from four to seven percent. The number of students who spoke a language other than English at home increased from 23,600 to 43,800, making them almost nine percent of the population.

Arkansas’ foreign-born population reached 133,000 in 2010, an increase of 82 percent from 2000 to 2010. The state has the nation’s fourth fastest-growing immigrant population, though at five percent its number remains low compared to the national average of 13 percent. Two-thirds are Latino, with most concentrated in the western part of the state.

Using numbers from the Pew Hispanic Center, the reported estimated that 42 percent of all immigrants in Arkansas – 55,000 in all – were here illegally in 2010.