Abbott considers reviving case challenging requirement to have illegal immigrants in public schools

The Texas governor says he may challenge the 1982 Supreme Court case that allows illegal immigrants to attend public schools

Updated: May 6, 2022 - 8:23am

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he may challenge a longstanding Supreme Court decision that states U.S. states cannot prohibit illegal immigrant children from attending public schools.

The Republican governor said during a recent radio interview on a San Antonio talk show that he was mulling the action and agreed with the host of the program that the price of educating an expanding group of illegal immigrant children in many languages is "extraordinary."

Abbott also said "times are different" from 40 years ago when the decision was made. At the time, the high court's decision barred Texas from charging tuition to parents of illegal immigrant school children, which would prevent a number of them from enrolling. 

Schools in Tyler, Texas, had sought to impose a tuition fee of about $1,000 a year per child (about $5,300 by today's standards.)

Abbott said that illegal migrants are now entering his state from no fewer than 155 countries and that many of the new arrivals speak different languages and little English. 

"Texas already, long ago, sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of that education program," he said. "I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler vs. Doe was issued many decades ago."

When asked about Abbott's remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, "That’s ultra-MAGA right there. ... Denying public education to kids, including immigrants to this country, I mean, that is not a mainstream point of view."

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