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Arizona School District Fined $1.2 Million for US Kids in Mexico Attending US School

Updated on May 10, 2012
The Arizona-Mexico Border
The Arizona-Mexico Border

Ever have the feeling the US immigration problem is such a conundrum that if one issue is fair, the other will not?

The city of Ajo (3,700) is 40 miles from the Mexico-U.S. border. The median household income is just nearly half of the national average of $50,000, and there are almost twice as many individuals below poverty level.

Lukeville, on the border. In 2009, about 1.2 million people crossed the border there. It is an everyday event for residents and non-residents to cross.

The Dilemma

Arizona fined Ajo Unified school district $1.2 million for educating 105 students, some of whom are U.S. citizens, are attending schools in Ajo but are actually living across the border in Mexico and not entitled to a free education in Arizona schools. Some of the kids are in High School and many are American but live across the border because the parents are not citizens or were deported in the past. Others live out of the district and are not AZ residents yet attend schools within the district. Still others are illegal yet live within the school district. This information was largely obtained by surveillance of suspect kids returning to Mexico after school and then being dropped off at schools in the morning.

To obtain various state and federal funds for Ajo schools, the state requires them to be a resident of the school district and Arizona. Many families, almost 50%,, were found to have provided fake addresses of some sort within the district, when in reality, they lived across the border in Mexico. Public schools are forbidden from inquiring about citizenship for enrollment purposes (under a U.S. Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe) but Arizona law requires that students must be residents. this requirement is more of a standard than exception with many states. But what happens when a child is found to be illegally in the US but a resident attending a US school? Which condition takes precedence? One could be a resident and proved such by utilities, bank accounts.

Many border towns in Mexico have seen a large increase of American-Mexican kids being enrolled because of their parents being deported. These kids are US citizens, some in High School and are use to the American way of life but speak no Spanish. Now, suddenly, unlike American schools who try to be bilingual in elementary schools, these kids have problems learning because there no English is spoken. These Americans face a culture they know nothing about and consider second rate, dirtier and more dangerous. The only way they could go to school in the US is if they resided with a resident in AZ by splitting up the family. If this is not possible, viva la Mexico.


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    • handymanbill profile image


      6 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Well in my state people pay property taxes to the school district. It does not matter whether you have a child of school age don't even have a child everyone pays. So why should people pay additional money for a child in another country to go to school in your area. Mexico is still another country. School District are complaining at least around here about not having enough money as it is.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      yes, the laws, both federal and state, are a double whamo. The fed requires one to be a legal resident in the US, the state law requires a child to be a state resident, then local school districts have similar rules. So, a child could be a US citizen, but not a resident of AZ or a resident of AZ but not of the school district!

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I think it's horrible that the children must pay the price of their education due to politics and confusing or conflicting laws. I would suggest a home for these students be made available to resolve the 'address' issues.

    • handymanbill profile image


      6 years ago from western pennsylvania

      I guess Mexico does want to be politically correct.I know in my school district that you cant go to another school district next door unless you pay. You go to the one you live in.Its called Legal Immigration. I guess the parents need to apply and come legally to the US. That's the consequences of sneaking over the border to have a child.


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