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Cost of Illegal Immigration in Hawaii

By    |   Friday, 09 October 2015 12:52 AM

The cost of illegal immigration in Hawaii may be associated with several state policies which are friendly towards undocumented workers.

The undocumented immigrant situation in Hawaii is slightly different than the rest of the country. Because of its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there are few Mexican immigrants. Instead, there are more illegal immigrants from the Philippines and Japan.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there could be about 20,000 illegal immigrants in the Aloha State. More than three-quarters of those are estimated to come from Asian countries, the majority from the Philippines. Illegal immigrants appear to be a growing problem in Hawaii. Almost 40 percent of the illegal immigrants in the state are believed to have only been there for less than five years.

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There are some undocumented children in the school system in Hawaii, but the drain on the system is lower than in other states. There are only about 2,000 undocumented children ages 3 to 17 enrolled in Hawaii's schools. According to the Hawaii State Department of Education, Hawaii's public schools educate more than 185,000 students. This makes the percentage of undocumented children quite low — at about 1 percent of the total.

In Hawaii, many people who are believed to be eligible for President Obama’s executive order to offer legal status for children who have grown up in in the country have not applied for the status. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could apply to about 4,000 people living in Hawaii. A 2014 report from KITV 4 in Honolulu estimated fewer than 300 people had applied.

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The state has some policies which are generous to immigrants who might not have legal status. The Hawaii Board of Regents offers in-state tuition to students who are undocumented immigrants. As long as the student attended a high school in the United States for at least three years and applied for the DACA status.

Hawaii also enacted a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2013 that requires overtime compensation, a fair minimum wage, and freedom from discrimination. These rules apply to people working in the homes of others as domestic housekeepers, handymen, gardeners, and babysitters.

The Hawaii Coalition for Immigration Reform
is working to make life easier for immigrants in Hawaii. Among these efforts is a push to allow immigrants to get drivers licenses, even if they cannot prove they are in the state legally. While several states have enacted similar laws, there are costs associated with the programs.

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The cost of illegal immigration in Hawaii may be associated with several state policies which are friendly towards undocumented workers.
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Friday, 09 October 2015 12:52 AM
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