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Utah tells feds how much it costs to teach immigrants

Published July 19, 2007 12:20 am

State wants its money back for 'failed immigration policy'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah legislators frustrated by illegal immigration are finished being nice - they're sending a strongly worded letter to the feds.

Armed with a legislative audit estimating the cost of educating undocumented immigrants, members of the Education Interim Committee voted Wednesday to send the audit to Utah's congressional delegation and the U.S. departments of Immigration and Education.

An accompanying letter will request "reimbursement to the state from the federal government of costs resulting from their failed immigration policy."

"I doubt they'll pay it," said Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, who made the motion to send the letter. "But I think it's important that they hear from the state."

The audit, which was released in May, estimated Utah spends between $63 million and $98 million educating undocumented immigrants. Its narrow scope considered neither the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants nor the taxes contributed by such workers.

The audit estimated costs to educate undocumented immigrants by roughly estimating their numbers - somewhere between 11,000 and 17,000 - and figuring the state spends the per-pupil average, plus low-income and English-language learner funds on them.

Democratic Reps. Carol Spackman-Moss of Holladay and Mark Wheatley of Murray, and Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, voted against the motion.

nstricker@sltrib.com