NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Republican lawmaker is pushing to eliminate K-12 education funding for undocumented immigrants.
Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) filed the legislation just ahead of next year’s legislative session and says Tennesseans should not foot the bill for what he calls, ‘criminal acts of undocumented immigrants.’
However, it’s the law of the land, but Paris Republican Rep. Griffey wants to challenge it.
“There is no way to challenge this in my opinion, an erroneous ruling from 1982 unless we pass legislation,” Griffey said.
The 1982 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe held that students cannot be denied a free public education due to their immigration status.
The court stripped away state power to decide and Griffey says Tennessee should have a say.
“It is up to the states to decide as a matter of policy whether the state taxpayers should be forced to spend their tax dollars on children of undocumented aliens who are here illegally,” Griffey said.
Griffey adds his position boils down to a “legal argument” and is not unsympathetic to undocumented immigrants.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see a proposal like this and to see an attack on immigrant communities once again coming from Rep. Griffey,” Jazmin Ramirez, an organizer with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said.
Organizers add the high court had it right in their initial decision.
“They have established this as a right for students regardless of where they come from to be able to access education, and we have seen it be productive over the past 40 years,” Ramirez said.