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Don't limit adult education

April 21. 2018 3:51PM

To the Editor: In response to your editorial of April 1, 2018, I was one of the critics who testified against SB 525 at the House Education Committee hearing. My objection is not that "SB 525 would prevent illegal immigrants from learning English." My objection to this bill is threefold.

First, it would leave adult education in an unworkable position. Funding comes from both federal and state sources and is blended into one budget. Federal funds prohibit inquiring about immigration status so asking about that, in order to satisfy state requirements, would jeopardize federal funding.

Second, immigration status is very complicated with many people in a "pending" position, and many others here "legally" but waiting for citizenship and thus, permission to work. Sorting that out, verifying status, while people wait in long lines to register, would be a nightmare. And it would force educators to present an unwelcoming picture to all registrants, even native-born who might appear to be immigrants.

Third, based on my 14 years in adult education, my guess is that the percentage of "illegal" immigrants in adult education classes in New Hampshire is very low (less than 1 percent.) This is not a real or serious problem in adult education in our state.

I understand concerns about legality and illegality, and I agree that the ins and outs of our immigration system is "a debate worth having." But let's not put that debate on the back of a program that is very successful, very cost effective, and very well run.



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