BY: Citizens Count
On Tuesday, February 13 a Senate committee hosted a public hearing on a bill to limit adult learning programs to legal residents.
Adult learning programs include classes for adults who have not earned their high school diploma and need help with reading, math, English language, basic job skills, etc. The state provides funding to school districts and not-for-profits that offer this adult education.
Arguments for and against limiting adult education programs
Sen. Andy Sanborn, the prime sponsor of the bill, said it is aimed at illegal immigrants taking classes about job training and career readiness. Anyone taking a class to enter the workforce should be able to legally work in the country, he argued.
Bill opponents point out that the bill fails to define “legal resident,” and would unfairly exclude people trying to get citizenship or permanent legal status from taking classes – including classes to learn English. For example, the bill would probably prevent someone seeking asylum from taking a class to learn English to assimilate.
More about the bill
There is no system in place to check the residency status of adult learning students, so if the bill passes adult learning programs will have to set up a system to verify the status of students.
The bill would also prohibit any state-funded financial assistance to students who are not legal residents attending public colleges and universities. However, Sen. Andy Sponsor, the prime sponsor of the bill, asked the committee to remove that portion of the bill.
New Hampshire’s community colleges and university system already have a system for determining legal residency.
Do you think New Hampshire should limit adult learning programs to legal residents of New Hampshire? Let us know in the comments below.