Following the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn the landmark abortion rights decisions Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said that he planned to petition the right-wing court to overturn a ruling that established the right to public education for all children, regardless of their immigration status. Abbott’s propaganda ally Fox News has spent years opposing public education for undocumented immigrant children, often defending its xenophobic attacks against immigrants with the same rhetoric used by Abbott.
Abbott announced his intention to challenge public education rights for undocumented immigrant children
The Austin American-Statesman reported that on May 4, Abbott told a conservative talk radio host that he may start a challenge to a 1982 Supreme Court ruling (Plyler v. Doe) that guaranteed all children, regardless of their immigration status, the right to public education from kindergarten to 12th grade. He cited the supposedly “extraordinary” “challenge put on our public [education] systems,” and that the ruling is forcing Texas “to bear that burden." The next day, Abbott said that educating undocumented immigrant children is “unsustainable and unaffordable."
Pagliarulo suggested that illegal immigration was having an impact on the state’s public school system.
“We're talking about public tax dollars, public property tax dollars going to fund these schools to teach children who are 5, 6, 7, 10 years old, who don't even have remedial English skills. This is a real burden on communities. What can you do about that?" he asked.
“The challenge put on our public systems is extraordinary," Abbott replied, blaming the Plyler v. Doe decision for forcing Texas “to bear that burden."
When pressed about the issue during an unrelated event Thursday in Houston, Abbott said he was concerned about the expected increase in migrants entering Texas if the Biden administration ends Title 42, a Trump-era public health policy that expedited removal of migrants at the border, including those seeking asylum.
“That leads to education obligations, as well as other obligations, that are simply unsustainable and unaffordable," Abbott said.
In fact, the lawyers who argued the Plyler v. Doe case on behalf of Texas made the same argument as Abbott that it was too expensive to educate these children and it meant taking resources away from other students. And Texas lost that argument, with the Supreme Court deciding that denying undocumented immigrant children a public education violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In 2017, Trump administration officials, led by white supremacist sympathizer Stephen Miller, reportedly attempted to find a way to bar these children from public education, but the 1982 ruling prevented their efforts from succeeding.
Fox News has a long history of attacking the rights of immigrant students
Abbott’s announcement fulfills years of demands from Fox News that the government strip access to public services from immigrants and their families. Fox has spent years promoting attacks specifically on the right for undocumented immigrant children to obtain a public education and has pushed similar concerns about the supposed burden of undocumented immigrants on government finances.
- In January, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade said the Biden administration is “poisoning these cities, and these towns, and these schools, with people that don't belong there,” regarding people who recently crossed the border. He also complained that “all of a sudden your tax dollars and your kids are going to school, instead of a 15-person class, there's 36 in that class, 15 of which will need all of the teacher's attention.”
- In October, Kilmeade said: “You’re paying taxes for people from other countries to come into your school system and sit next to your kid in an overcrowded classroom. So your kid’s education is diminished.”
- In September, Kilmeade complained about migrant children “in my school district.”
- Also in September, Fox prime-time host and white nationalist Tucker Carlson fearmongered about immigrants overcrowding schools, housing, and hospitals.
- During a 12-week period between March and June 2021, 32 segments on the channel saw Fox personalities and guests baselessly suggesting that migrant children are a burden to the United States educational system. Fox & Friends led the field in pushing this attack, accounting for 40% of these segments.
- In March 2021, a FoxNews.com article attacked a volunteer effort in San Diego to teach immigrant teenage girls who were being held at the San Diego Convention Center. Over the next day and a half, there were at least 30 Fox segments covering this education effort.
- In February 2019, Fox host Laura Ingraham cited research from an anti-immigrant hate group to claim that immigrant schoolchildren have led to a “diminished product” in schools.
- In August 2014, the late Fox Business host Brenda Buttner suggested that parents should be concerned with “a surge of up to 60,000 illegal kids in their classrooms.” She added: “Forget the Ebola scare. Is it really the back to school scare?” Former Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes later insisted that “we have to take care of our own first.”
- Carlson in August 2014 similarly asked “about the rights of the kids who were born here, the American citizens who presumably have the right to a decent education and aren't getting one because of this?”
- In December 2011, former Fox News host Eric Bolling said he would be willing go into public schools to round up undocumented students.
- In August 2014, regular Fox guest Stephen Moore botched his own organization’s calculations on the cost of educating these students in an attempt to gin up opposition to their presence in public schools.
- In June 2011, Fox & Friends defended an Alabama law which required schools to check students’ immigration status, citing “a need for action” against immigrants.