A Republican lawmaker in Oklahoma wants to target non-English-speaking schoolchildren to fill a budget gap. State Rep. Mike Ritze told local media that Oklahoma could save $60 million by handing over non-English-speaking kids to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Claiming the state has about 82,000 non-English-speaking students, Ritze said the measure would determine “if they truly are citizens.” And if not, he said, the state shouldn’t be paying for their education.
The state Department of Education has estimated that about 50,000 students are enrolled in classes for learning English as a second language, the Associated Press reports. Ritze has not elaborated on his proposal, but several of his fellow Republicans in Oklahoma expressed shock at the idea. “This caught many of us by surprise, because that’s not the direction that we talked about,” Rep. Chuck Strohm, the co-chairman of the Republican Platform Caucus, was quoted as saying by the AP. The proposal comes as lawmakers debate how to fill a $900 million hole in the state’s budget without increasing taxes. Read more.