In response to a recent report on the latest U.S Census numbers on Westhampton-Hampton Bays Patch received a number of comments from readers, questioning both the data as it pertains to illegal Hispanics living in Hampton Bays and their impact on the school district.
According to Robert Bernstein, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2010 Census accounts for all residents, despite their immigration status.
“We count everybody, Bernstein said. “All residents of the country, including people who are here illegally. We just don’t ask them if they are legal or not.”
According to the Census, the Hispanic population in Hampton Bays has risen 154 percent in the last decade to 3,897 in 2010, compared to 1,528 Hispanic residents in 2000.
And of the 3,897 Hispanic residents living in Hampton Bays, 1,147 are under the age of 18. Meanwhile, there are 2,267 white children under the age of 18 living in Hampton Bays, according to the census.
Hampton Bays Superintendent Lars Clemensen said the numbers ring true when looking at the make-up of the student population in the Hampton Bays School District. But immigration status, Clemensen said, has no bearing on whether a child can receive public education.
According to Clemensen, the district’s non-white population is about 43 percent with the white population sitting at 57 percent.
“It is the district’s legal obligation to educate all children regardless of the nationalization status," Clemensen said. “The only ‘illegal’ classification the district can give a student is if they live outside the boundaries of Hampton Bays.”
All students must prove residency in the district through a lease, deed or utility bill, he said.
At the same time, Clemensen said there is no way for the district to be able to know the direct impact or cost that the school district carries to educate students whose immigration status is not legal.
He did say, however, that the district offers English as a second language for students whose first language isn’t English.
Clemensen said about 15 percent of students qualify for that program, which enlists 3 percent of the district’s faculty to offer the supplemental language service.
There is no additional cost for bilingual classrooms, he said.