Some border county sheriffs want Arizona schools to start asking students whether they are in this country legally.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who originated the idea, said Arizona taxpayers are underwriting millions of dollars of costs of teaching English to children who have no legal right to be here. He also said there is a link between illegal immigration and social problems and gang activity.
Only thing is, a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision appears to make it illegal for school officials to ask. In a 5-4 decision, the justices overturned a Texas law that authorized school districts to refuse to enroll anyone who could not prove legal presence in this country.
But Dupnik said it may be time for Arizona to have a test case to put the issue back before the high court to see if the justices still agree.
Dupnik has the backing of Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden and Joe Arpaio, his Maricopa County counterpart. And even Gov. Jan Brewer said she sees no reason that youngsters should not be asked to prove they are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
“When I grew up, when I went to school, when I moved from Nevada to California, I had to bring my birth certificate to prove I was a citizen,” she said.
But Attorney General Terry Goddard said he doesn’t think schools have the expertise to determine someone’s legal status.
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