When we listen to our representatives discuss what they believe is the state’s best strategy for budget cuts, parents never want to hear that their children and their education will be affected by it. Oklahoma Representative Mike Ritze turned that nightmare into a reality for the parents of 82,000 non English-speaking students, Wednesday (May 11).
The Republican representative is a part of a new 22-member caucus developed in the Oklahoma House. Rep. Ritze expressed his views on the new budget plan, which asks to “Identify them and then turn them over to ICE to see if they truly are citizens,” and begs “do we really have to educate non-citizens?”
Ritze apparently is unaware that legally all children have the right to attend public schools, despite their immigration status, and to apply for student aid if they meet certain conditions.
There are 74 Republicans in the 101-member House, and the Republican Platform Caucus represents one-third of that population. According to the Huffington Post, Ritze’s proposed plan would cost $60 million dollars at the expense of its citizens.
Ritze appears to stand alone on this topic. During an interview with the Associated Press, co-chairman of the caucus, Rep. Chuck Strohm said, “On this subject of deporting students, that is not a position that we support. This caught many of us by surprise, because that’s not the direction that we talked about.”
While Ryan Kiesel of the ACLU in Oklahoma chimes in to label the representative’s idea “disgustingly inhumane,” House Floor Leader, Jon Echols thoughts weren’t too far off in comparison. Echols revealed to AP, “I have no desire to target [non-English speaking] students. That’s a bad idea.”