State schools are struggling to outpace the surge of illegal alien students being enrolled in public education, per a recent report by the Heritage Foundation.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when a child unaccompanied by an adult or legal guardian is apprehended at the southwest border by immigration authorities, the child is transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement “while they wait for immigration proceedings.”

The ORR subsequently releases illegal minors to sponsors—who, oftentimes, are family members. Sponsors are considered custodians throughout the child’s immigration proceedings.

In Texas, the ORR released 16,394 unaccompanied minors to sponsors during fiscal year 2023. According to the Heritage Foundation’s report, “At $13,900 per pupil, per year, those additional students cumulatively cost nearly an additional $228 million for one year.”

Fiscal year 2024, which began October 1, saw the release of 5,946 unaccompanied minors to sponsors. As of March 1, ORR has released 88,334 unaccompanied minors to sponsors since fiscal year 2015.

The U.S. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe (1982) held that public school districts are required to enroll minors regardless of immigration status.

Additionally, public school districts are required to enroll sudden influxes of illegal alien students and make necessary accommodations. In April 2022, for example, a surge of 400-plus Central American students forced teachers in two Austin Independent School District high schools to deliver lectures in either hallways or conference rooms—with many of these students not even able to speak English.

“Unchecked illegal immigration over the past three years has had adverse effects on public education. Not only must the federal government secure the border and prevent illegal migration, but states should also take action,” the Heritage Foundation’s February 28 report states.

Public school districts are not alone in shouldering the burden of educating illegal aliens. A study by the Huffines Liberty Foundation concluded that educating illegal aliens is costing Texas taxpayers more than $7 billion each year.

The study claimed that “The most important step that can be taken to reduce these costs is to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. Unfortunately, neither federal nor state politicians are seriously trying to shut down the border to illegal immigration.”

Notably, 87.64 percent of GOP Primary voters in 2024 agreed with the ballot proposition that “The Texas Legislature should end all subsidies and public services, including in-state college tuition and enrollment in public schools, for illegal aliens.”

Will Biagini

Will was born in Louisiana and raised in a military family. He currently serves as a journalist with Texas Scorecard. Previously, he was a senior correspondent for Campus Reform.