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Trustee Proposes Making New Pupils Prove Residency

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Anaheim school trustee who once proposed billing Mexico for the cost of educating illegal immigrants from that country now wants to require new students in the district to produce a U.S. birth certificate or proof of residency--or face being turned over to immigration officials.

The proposal by Anaheim Union High School District board member Harald G. Martin, scheduled to be heard by the Board of Trustees on Thursday, has been deemed illegal by district lawyers and will probably be dead on arrival, board President Katherine H. Smith said. But word of the plan has riled local Latino leaders, who have long clashed with Martin.

“He is on a crusade to stop a lot of Latinos and other ethnic groups from getting an education,” said Zeke Hernandez, president of the Santa Ana chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

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Martin, 46, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But Smith said attorneys for the district have advised the board that Martin’s plan is illegal, which means it is unlikely that another board member will second his motion to put the proposal to a vote.

“We should be concentrating on academics,” said Trustee Alexandria Coronado, who added that she will not support the motion.

Smith said Tuesday that she understands Martin’s frustration at seeing the district’s resources stretched to the limit because of overcrowding, but she disagreed with his solution.

“We have an awesome, awesome challenge,” said Smith, who plans to run for state superintendent of education next year. “I just don’t feel we should put that kind of worry and onus on our kids. As adults, we have to work on these larger issues. Let the kids do their homework without the worry of an immigration officer coming and taking them.”

In 1995, Martin, an Anaheim police officer first elected to the board in 1994, proposed that the district sue Mexico to recover the cost of educating illegal immigrants in the district, most of whom he estimated were Mexican.

The board rejected that idea but voted in 1999 to charge the federal government for the cost of educating all undocumented foreigners. The plan was for the United States to in turn deduct those sums from the foreign aid going to the countries where the children were from. The U.S. Justice Department eventually ruled that the federal government had no legal grounds to charge foreign countries for the cost of educating their citizens here.

The Anaheim Union High School Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at district headquarters, 501 Crescent Way.


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