In a town famous for Pancho Villa’s ransacking, the purloining still occurs; this time horses and mules are not disappearing, but taxpayer money is. Columbus, New Mexico is just 3 miles north of Palomas, Mexico and is one of the many border towns mired in the border fence, illegal immigration, and drug smuggling. The culprit in this case, however, is not El Chapo or a coyote, but rather residents in Mexico expecting American taxpayer benefits.
Many families in Palomas, Mexico choose to send their children to Deming Public School District. Regardless of citizenship, these Palomas students are ineligible for Deming Public School education as they live out of the district and are not supporting the school through taxes. In 1996, The Albuquerque Journal noted that students residing in Mexico have been educated in the United States for free for over 40 years.
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Judicial Watch investigated this matter of “free” education. For school year 2008-2009, 506 students were transported from the Port of Entry to Deming Public Schools (and this number has been increasing for the past three years). Typically, the students cross the border where a public school bus waits for them and then transports them 30 miles to the schools in Deming. The source of funding for theses students is part of the district allotment which is based on services (busing, English as a second language, etc). Based on an average district enrollment of 5447, total operational cost of $36,254,672, and 460 students bused from the port of entry in 2007-2008, on average $3,061,712.71 was spent on students picked up at the Port of Entry. The law firm handling the request specifically notes that “funding is based on total services for all the students in the district and is not calculated on a child by child method. Therefore, we do not have the information of the funding by any specific child.” In essence, if the school is already providing such services, then the additional students may not be costing anything extra; but here’s the catch, 460 students is necessarily going to result in a need for more services like additional teachers, additional meals, transportation, special instruction, etc. The amount of additional money is not insignificant especially given that New Mexico will receive $537,047,803 from President Obama’s stimulus plan to “lay the foundation for a generation of education reform and help save thousands of teaching jobs at risk due to state and local budget cuts.” That’s right, the stimulus money will indirectly be funding education for students whose families do not pay taxes.