(KFYI News) – Less than a week before the primary election, Arizona's top educator called a news conference to says he's alarmed about the possibility of a Presidential executive order granting amnesty, and the impact such an order could have on Arizona schools.
State Superintendent John Huppenthal is embroiled in a hotly-contested primary, but denies that the timing of his news conference was a bid to curry favorable publicity before thousands of Arizona voters cast their ballots.
Instead, Huppenthal says, he called the news conference when he did because "We keep getting the sense that this action at the federal level is imminent. Right now, this day, is the time to express our concern."
Huppenthal told reporters that he sent a letter to US education secretary Arne Duncan asking the President's intentions on amnesty, and saying that any amnesty declaration could lead to a "surge" in school enrollment, the cost of which would fall on the backs of Arizona taxpayers.
Confronted with the fact that any amnesty would involve children who are already in the country, and already enrolled in our schools, thus resulting in NO increase in enrollment, Huppenthal insisted that it could "open the floodgates" for more illegal immigration, which could quickly mean more students in Arizona schools. Such an increase, he said, would not give enough time for the legislature to appropriate enough money.
Huppenthal used the example of the estimated 200 undocumented children from Central America who were brought to Arizona by the US Department of Homeland Security who have apparently settled in our state. He said based on Arizona's per-pupil cost, those kids will cost taxpayers just over $1 million for the current school year.
Another chart showed that if there's a "surge" of 10,000 students as a result of amnesty, the cost would be in excess of $50 million.
Asked repeatedly about the timing of his announcement, and why he couldn't wait another week until after the election, Huppenthal said if the President issues an executive amnesty order in the next week, it would be too late for him to express his concerns.
PHOTO: Huppenthal displayed this chart showing the potential impact of additional undocumented students on Arizona's budget: