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UNDOCUMENTED: Impact of Trump's proposed deportations unclear for K-12 students

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BS 090116 Heritage Elementary 05-1

Bradi Holder works on math problems with her first grade class at Heritage Elementary in Ogden on Thursday, September 1, 2016. In Utah, 7.4 percent of kindergarten through 12th grade students in public and private schools were children of unauthorized immigrants in 2014.

Most local school districts don’t track immigration status, so although some educators are worried about the impacts of Donald Trump’s election on these students, no one knows exactly how many children will be affected.

In Utah, 7.4 percent of kindergarten through 12th grade students in public and private schools were children of unauthorized immigrants in 2014, according to Pew Research Center.

That’s in line with the national level — where 3.9 million students, or about 7.3 percent, were the children of illegal immigrants — but dramatically lower than neighboring states, which have some of the highest levels in the nation. In Nevada, 17.6 percent of students are the children of undocumented immigrants; in Arizona it’s 12.2 percent, and Colorado is at 10.2 percent.

Although Davis, Ogden and Weber school districts don’t track the immigration status of students or their parents, they do require proof of residency, such as a utility bill, lease, driver’s license or pay stub, to enroll.  

“If they show documentation they’re currently a resident within our district boundaries, we welcome any parent who is willing to bring their kid to our schools,” Ogden School District spokesman Jer Bates said.

These districts offer English as a Second Language classes, but immigration status doesn’t play a role in enrollment for that class. 

“Basically, if they live within the school boundaries, their child qualifies for the program and the parent(s) give permission for them to be enrolled,” Weber School District spokesman Lane Findlay said, “then that is all we are concerned with.”

Box Elder School District, which has significantly more farmland than other local districts, does have a special program to work with migrant students, but the number of students involved has been dropping. 

Chad Kirby, who handles the district’s migrant education, said the number of students he works with has gone from about 350 to 60 in the past 10 years. 

Whether migrant workers are here legally, Kirby said the election of Donald Trump has raised questions.

“That’s always a concern for those who are migrant workers and not here legally because they don’t know how it’s going to affect them,” he said.

Although we may not know whether children and their families are in Utah legally, we do know the state's population is becoming more ethnically diverse.

According to the 2016 Measures of Child Well-Being in Utah report, about half of the children in Utah will be children of an ethnic minority by 2050.

The report's projections from the Center for American Progress state Utah's population will be 58 percent white in 2060, a year when only 44 percent of the county’s population as a whole will be white.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at

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