EducationFederalImmigration & BorderIssuesJudicialAbbott Says State May ‘Resurrect’ Supreme Court Case That Required Texas to Educate Children of Illegal Aliens

The court decided in 1982 that the U.S. Constitution requires Texas to provide education to the children of illegal aliens.
May 5, 2022
Citing the cost of illegal immigration to the State of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott pitched the idea of revisiting a decades-old case that requires public schools to provide education to the children of illegal aliens.

The governor made the comments in a radio appearance with host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo.

Abbott broached the topic when he was asked in a radio appearance about the state’s efforts against illegal immigration.

“Think of what they’re trying to grapple with in our schools. It’s not just Spanish that teachers have to deal with these kids on, it’s multiple other languages, and so the challenge it’s putting on our public systems is extraordinary,” the governor said.

Abbott referenced a 5 to 4 decision in June 1982 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Plyler v. Doe, which began with a lawsuit against the Tyler Independent School District.

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The case centered on an act of the Texas Legislature in 1975 that denied education funds to local school districts that provided education to the children of illegal immigrants.

The Supreme Court issued an opinion that disallowing the children of illegal aliens from participating in the public school system runs afoul of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Further, the high court stated that Texas lacked a “compelling state interest” in excluding them from public schools.

“I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago,” Abbott said.

The Supreme Court has taken center stage this week after POLITICO published a leaked draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that enshrined a right to abortion in the American legal system.

Proponents of providing benefits to illegal aliens and their children contend that it is compassionate and reflects American values. On the other hand, opponents point to the increasing number of incentives to immigrate to the U.S. illegally.

The population of illegal immigrants has dramatically increased since President Biden took office, and many jurisdictions along the border have been clear that they cannot support the number of people crossing unlawfully.

State lawmakers and members of Congress in both parties have supported stronger border security measures.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has discouraged “irregular migration,” though Abbott and others have said the federal government is doing too little to deter illegal crossings.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."