Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bogus foreign students in Britain facing visa crackdown after shocking figures show a quarter flout the rules

An end to the rampant abuse of the visa system by thousands of students who claim to be attending private colleges will be announced by ministers tomorrow.

The Home Office has uncovered shocking figures showing that 26 per cent of the non-EU students given permission to attend the colleges go on to flout the rules. They do not bother to go home, disappear into the black economy, or work illegally.

Under plans to be unveiled tomorrow, only students attending university courses will be entitled to a visa. Only a small number of the most trusted private colleges will be allowed to ‘sponsor’ migrants. In stark contrast to private colleges, only 2 per cent of immigrants going to university break immigration rules.

Ministers will also slash students’ entitlement to work – which is currently 20 hours a week – and limit their ability to bring in dependants.

They say the measures will help to meet their commitment to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’, while ending the abuse of student visas which took place under Labour.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘They have left us with a system that is wildly out of control. The figures are staggering.’
The Home Office has uncovered shocking figures showing that 26 per cent of the non-EU students given permission to attend colleges in the UK go on to flout the visa system rules

Home Office research, released last night, shows that students represent almost two-thirds of the non-EU migrants entering the UK each year. Last year, the figure was more than 300,000.

But officials said 41 per cent of students from abroad were coming to study a course below degree level, and abuse was ‘particularly common’ at those levels.

A supposed student from Delhi, who travelled to the UK to enrol on a diploma course in hospitality management, thought the course would allow him to become a doctor. He could not understand English.

Mr Green said: ‘We will only admit people to do degrees at a genuine institution or with a verifiable sponsor.’


An educated guess on Texas students in the U.S. illegally

In Texas, nobody asks, nobody tells, but a whole lot of people would sure like to know. How many illegal immigrants attend the state's public schools, supported by taxpayer money?

While the answer is unknown because schools do not track students' legal status, estimates from top researchers and a Dallas Morning News analysis of little-known state data provide a range that is lower than many people might expect.

•At the lower end, researchers estimate between 125,000 and 150,000 illegal immigrants attended Texas public schools in 2009, making up 3 percent of Texas students and costing taxpayers more than $1 billion a year.

•At the top end, the analysis provides a solid ceiling. State records show 92 percent of the state's schoolchildren have Social Security numbers on file, indicating they are legally in the United States. That means Texas cannot have more than 8 percent – about 400,000 illegal immigrant students – or spend more than $3.5 billion annually to educate them.

The precise numbers are almost certainly lower because school districts cannot require parents to provide Social Security numbers, though most ask for them.

"Eight percent is a ceiling, but it's a high ceiling," said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

Passel estimates there were 150,000 illegal immigrants in Texas schools in 2009, including a small portion who attended private schools. His work is derived from U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor surveys. He acknowledges the margin for error in his Texas estimate is "pretty big." He declined to give a specific margin.

Some want the guesswork to end.

A bill has been filed for the next Texas legislative session, which begins in January, that would require districts to ask for proof of legal status and report the number of illegal immigrants who attend their schools. Similar bills have failed in the past, but the political climate has changed, raising the odds of success this time.

Plyler vs. Doe

Taxpayers, school districts and the state are entitled to know the number, some argue, because they bear the brunt of the costs. Others say the counting effort is designed to discourage parents from enrolling children who are in the United States illegally, endangering their right to education guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982.

In Plyler vs. Doe, a Tyler case, the court struck down a Texas law denying public education funding to illegal immigrants and attempts to charge them tuition.

There is disagreement about whether the court's decision also prohibits counting illegal immigrant students. That's why school districts currently avoid the issue by not asking.

State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, said nothing forbids districts to track illegal immigrants, as long as they aren't denied admittance. Berman said illegal immigrants cost Texas billons of dollars a year in services, including the building of additional public schools. "The illegal aliens aren't paying for those school buildings," Berman said.

"Enough is enough," echoes Dallas resident Shirley Daniels, who has grandchildren in Dallas ISD. "They're taking away from us."

Talk like that worries relatives of students in the country illegally and their advocates, who point out that some illegal immigrants do pay taxes.

"What's the point in knowing whether they're here legally or illegally?" said Alicia Luna of Dallas, who has nieces here illegally. "To me it would be to kick them out."

David Hinojosa, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that asking a student's status could violate the Supreme Court ruling because it might make parents, already fearful of authorities, hold their kids out of school.

"There's no educational purpose. It's very mean-spirited and leads nowhere," Hinojosa said.

Dallas teacher Diane Birdwell said the proposed law would send kids here illegally into hiding and increase school dropout rates.

"If this law is to destroy some of our public schools, then that is what it would do," said Birdwell, who sits on the board of directors for NEA-Dallas employees association. "If you don't want these kids in school, then get the people who hire their parents."

The idea of counting illegal immigrant students, while controversial, has received support from the U.S. General Accounting Office. In a 2004 report, the audit and investigative arm of Congress said it was relevant for states to know the exact number. A possible future federal reimbursement of costs related to illegal immigrants is one reason cited.

Texas state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, fears that the bill requiring school districts to determine citizenship and other bills targeting immigrants could pass next year because of large GOP majorities in both the state House and Senate.

"They'll be able to pass anything – and anti-immigration is a top priority," Farrar said.

That would be a mistake, she said. In the long run, not educating immigrants will cost more.

Social Security test

Students who don't submit Social Security numbers when they first enroll in Texas schools get a state-approved alternative ID from their school district. Both numbers are used for tracking purposes.

The state reviews the Social Security numbers, but the numbers are not verified with the federal government.

In The News' analysis, higher concentrations of alternative IDs were found around the largest cities. Dallas ISD and Houston ISD issued alternative IDs to about 18 percent of their students.

The percentage of students without Social Security numbers in Dallas ISD is close to an estimate of illegal immigrant students that Superintendent Michael Hinojosa provided: about 15 percent, or 23,000 students, accounting for more than $200 million in annual costs.

In The News' analysis, some suburban districts, like Plano, Denton and Katy, near Houston, had surprisingly high proportions of students with alternative IDs.

But that does not appear to mean they have large numbers of illegal immigrant students.

School officials at Plano and Katy said their communities have a lot of foreign workers, here legally, and their children don't have Social Security numbers. The officials also said some parents don't provide Social Security numbers because they worry about potential identity theft.

Denton ISD, where nearly 26 percent of the students were using alternative IDs, doesn't change an alternative ID number even if the student later produces a Social Security number.

Hinojosa thinks that alternative IDs provide the best ballpark maximum for illegal immigrant student figures. But he found the maximum of only 8 percent "a little surprising."

Lew Blackburn, currently DISD's longest-serving trustee, had guessed that the proportion of illegal immigrant students statewide would be 15 to 25 percent. Regardless of the number, he said, schools should not be "immigration policemen."

"You're going to have parents that are afraid to have their kids in school," he said.

Ana, who is in the country illegally, has a son, also in the country illegally, who is a senior at W.T. White High School in northwest Dallas. She said she never felt threatened when enrolling him in school, but she's concerned about what could happen now.

"They'll try to place more restrictions," she said.

Some say schools have already gone too far in efforts to collect Social Security numbers.

The News found that 41 of 50 districts reviewed in North Texas listed a Social Security card as an enrollment requirement on their websites.

Civil liberties groups say posing what should be a request as a requirement is against the law.

"It's not that they can't ask for it, but they can't require it," said Lisa Graybill, ACLU Foundation of Texas legal director. "They should be concerned about the accuracy of what's on their website. It's definitely something to be concerned about."

Varying estimates

Over the past decade, several estimates, including two from the Texas comptroller's office, have pegged the proportion of illegal immigrants in the state's public schools at 3 to 5 percent of total enrollment.

The lowest estimate, by the comptroller's office, was 125,000 students for the 2000-01 school year. The highest was 225,000 for 2003-04, by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal-immigrant group that has issued several reports about the strain that it says immigrants place on the public education system.

In its latest estimate, for 2009, FAIR drastically reduced the number of illegal immigrant students in Texas public schools to 127,390, nearly 100,000 less than its 2003-04 estimate.

Part of the reason for the lower number, explained Jack Martin, FAIR's director of special projects, is because the flow of new immigrants to the U.S. has slowed in recent years, while illegal immigrants who are already here continue to have children.

That raises a separate, but related issue: U.S.-born children – therefore, U.S. citizens – of illegal immigrants. In Texas, the Pew Center's Passel estimated, there were 350,000 U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants in grades K-12 in 2009, more than twice as many students as those who were illegal immigrants themselves.

Adding that group to the illegal immigrant children means about 500,000 Texas school-age children have parents who are living in the country illegally, making up about 11.5 percent of the state's enrollment, Passel estimates. That's almost twice the national rate.

FAIR and some Republicans in Washington say it's time to end birthright citizenship.

Berman has proposed a bill for this session that would prohibit the state from giving a birth certificate to a child whose parents are here illegally. He said if the bill passes, he expects a lawsuit to be filed in protest – which he hopes will get the issue before the Supreme Court.

As the estimates and debates continue, Dallas-area Latinos don't want people to overlook the social aspect of the issue – and its possible effect on schoolchildren.

"It's unfair for them to involve a school with immigration issues," said Luna, the Dallas resident who has nieces here illegally. "Kids have to be here because of their parents."


No comments:

Post a Comment