The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Fighting Terrorism: One Child at a Time

By Joanna Miller in News on Feb 24, 2006 5:46PM

Suburban Elmwood Park bills itself as a “great place to live, shop, work and play.” They might want to change that to a great place to live, shop, work and play, unless you’re a teenage immigrant. Specifically, a 14-year-old Ecuadorian girl here on a temporary B-2 visa. Then, not so much.

Elmwood Park School District 401
refused to allow the girl to enroll in classes citing federal immigration law. They say the feds have been cracking down on cases involving B-2 visas since 9/11. And obviously, once you start educating immigrant children, the terrorists win.normal_emptydesk.JPG

The Illinois State Board of Education is calling the argument bullshit and says it has a Supreme Court case and state law to back it up. The Elwood Park School District also tried to keep a 13-year-old Czech girl out of its schools, but admitted her after her visa expired and she sued them. The state board says the district had no right to even question students about their immigration status. And, to show them who’s boss, the board’s cutting them off.

The board voted Thursday to withhold all state funding from the school district. The Tribune puts the number at $3.3 million. The Sun Times says $3.5 million. Either way, it’s a shit load of pencils and protractors and a big chunk of the district’s $30 million budget. Oh, and the district has been suspended from the Illinois High School Association, which means when the Class AA boys basketball tournament gets underway on Monday, the Elwood Park Tigers will have to sit it out.

The battle is far from over and the district plans to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian girl has reportedly fled the state in fear of deportation. But we're sure she's as eager to learn as ever.

UPDATE: The Elmwood Park School District backed down this afternoon and agreed to not consider immigration status when admitting students. Looks like they'll be getting their money after all and the boys can play ball. Everyone's happy for now. Well, except the Ecuadorian girl. No word on her wherabouts.