Carolina Journal News Reports
Counties Worry About Cost of Immigrant-Minor Influx
Mecklenberg, Durham, Wake facing $7 million price tag
RALEIGH — Most of the 1,429 unaccompanied minors relocated to North Carolina after they entered the United States illegally were released to host families in Mecklenburg, Durham, and Wake counties, raising health and safety concerns, as well as concerns about increased education costs to local governments.
Estimated additional costs to absorb the influx of unaccompanied minors, based on 2012-13 state, federal, and local per-pupil education and capital-expense records, would be more than $7 million for the three counties alone: $4.07 million in Mecklenburg County, $1.79 million in Durham County, and $1.51 million in Wake County.
Those numbers are based on average per-pupil costs, and do not include additional state and federal funding required for students from low-income families, students who are English language learners, and students who have disabilities. And with waves of unaccompanied minors still streaming into the country, it is uncertain how many more will be relocated to North Carolina.
A just-released report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform says North Carolina statewide will pay $20,861,808 in additional education costs this school year, ranking it No. 11 among the states, due to the influx of the unaccompanied minors. FAIR says the national cost will be $761 million.
“We have had concern about the lack of a transparent plan from the Obama Administration to deal with this situation in a humanitarian and practical way,” said Alexandra Lefebvre, spokeswoman at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the state agency at the forefront of the situation.
“In the last few weeks, the federal government has provided some aggregate county level data, more specifics about the background checks, and indicated where sponsors could retrieve medical records for unaccompanied alien children,” Lefebvre said.
“This information, while piecemeal, has provided some additional assurances. We are still hoping to get additional information, such as how children are receiving appropriate follow-up care, or what is the Obama Administration’s plan to ensure the sponsors maintain appropriate contacts with our legal system,” she said. (more…)