Horry school board chairman: Undocumented immigrants 'should not be allowed to go to school'

Updated: May. 31, 2017 at 6:09 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A member of Socastee High School's 2017 graduating class is an undocumented immigrant from Honduras.

Cinthia Zavala-Ramos is also her class' valedictorian and gave a speech during graduation ceremonies at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Wednesday.

That prompted a reaction from Horry County School Board Chairman Joe Defeo, who said if students are "here illegally, they should not be allowed to go to school and use taxpayer funds."

"It's an inspiring story for anybody, but it's no more inspiring than everybody else that graduates from Socastee High," he said about the valedictorian.

Back in January, Defeo said he didn't want to hire any additional English to Speakers of Other Languages teachers.

"Why are we paying $800,000 extra a year when half of the kids we're teaching are not even here legally?" Defeo said at the time.

As for Socastee High's 2017 valedictorian, Defeo said "it doesn't bother me in any way, shape or form she's going to our school."

"I'm glad she graduated," he said. "I hope one day she's here legally. Until that time, it's a problem."

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