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John Curley supports idea to fund education of illegal immigrants

Sixty percent of Americans oppose funding to educate illegal immigrants. (AP file photo)

A newly released survey finds 40% of Americans have no problem educating children of illegal immigrants. KIRO's John Curley is one of them.

"Would you rather have an illegal immigrant come to this country, have a kid in this country and then not have the kid get educated? I mean, how does that help anybody, that's just silly."

The poll by the public education advocacy group Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) shows that four in 10 Americans now favor "providing free public education, school lunches and other benefits" to children whose parents are in the USA illegally.

But Curley points out a vast majority still oppose the benefits and he calls that misguided. The number of illegal immigrants coming into our country continues to decline, in large part because of a lack of jobs and other economic opportunities.

"Most of what I see, anybody that's coming to this country is not coming for the free stuff but to work," Curley says.

He points to the regular gathering of day laborers outside his neighborhood Home Depot.

"I'm going to guess a lot of them are illegal because if they weren't illegal, they'd have a social security number and be able to pick up work somewhere else."

Curley, a Republican Sammamish City Councilmember, is in the minority within his own party. The survey finds just 21% of Republicans favored funding for illegal students. In contrast, 65% of Democrats favor such funding.

Meantime, a small private liberal arts college in western Massachusetts has announced the establishment of a scholarship fund dedicated to helping illegal immigrants get degrees.

The scholarship will provide more than $25,000 each year to help an illegal immigrant pay for the $43,000-plus tuition at Hampshire College in Amherst. At current funding levels, the endowment will help support one student's studies at the college every four years, said college spokeswoman Elaine Thomas.

Curley supports the move, especially since it doesn't involve public funding.

Hampshire alumni, graduating students, parents and other donors have given more than $300,000 since the spring to fund the scholarship and an endowment to sustain it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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