Feds to School Districts: No, You Can't Deny Undocumented Kids an Education -- And Don't Bully Them, Either

Undocumented Kids.jpg
Salon
Memo to legislators: son niños. They're children.

​The Department of Justice mailed out a gentle reminder to school districts across the country over the weekend advising that undocumented students are, in fact, entitled to attend primary and secondary schools in America without getting hassled.

 

It comes in the wake of published news reports alleging that school districts across the country are intimidating undocumented parents from enrolling their kids in public schools by asking for immigration papers, which federal law forbids.

The letter can also be taken as a warning to several state Legislatures, including Arizona's, about the legality of their ongoing efforts to keep undocumented youth out of school.

According to a July New York Times report, a New York Civil Liberties Union study found that 139 districts in New York state were "routinely requiring a child's immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants can provide."

That story also notes similar efforts in Maryland, New Jersey, and Nebraska. The Dallas Morning News has reported on similar efforts in Texas.

No students were denied entry into New York escuelas for lack of immigration status, according to the Times, but simply asking for those papers can have a chilling effect on parents of undocumented kids who might keep their kids out of school for fear of exposure.

The Department of Justice's letter was signed by officials in the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education's General Counsel. It specifically directs schools on what they can ask of enrolled students and gives guidelines on how.

Schools are allowed to ask for documents, such as utility bills or lease agreements, to establish that a student lives in a district. They are not allowed to ask for immigration papers for the same purpose.

They're also allowed to request birth certificates for proof of a student's age, but they cannot deny a student admission for providing a foreign certificate. Nor are they allowed to suggest that they need an American birth certificate.

The biggest point in the letter revolves around Social Security numbers. The letter reminds schools that they can ask for a social if they want to but that they must inform parents it is optional, and parents can decline to give a social for whatever reason.

More importantly, the letter adds, schools that ask for socials must ask it of everybody.

"In all instances of information collection and review, it is essential that any request be uniformly applied to all students and not applied in a selective manner to specific groups of students," the letter reads.

Arizona politicians attempted to pass a bill last year requiring the state Department of Education to determine the number of undocumented students in public schools and provide a "cost" to taxpayers of educating them. The Morning News reported last November on a proposed bill in Texas requiring students to show proof of citizenship so that the government could determine how many students in their schools have papers. An Oklahoma committee passed a similar bill in February 2010.

Bills like these don't deny undocumented students the right to attend school -- but they're designed to frighten and mislead undocumented parents into not enrolling their students into school, the same result.

Undocumented children are allowed to attend public schools per the Supreme Court's ruling in Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 case. The DOJ cites its key determination in its letter:

Denying "innocent children" access to a public education, the Court explained, "imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status. . . . By denying these children a basic education, we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation."

While the DOJ letter does not explicitly mention the threat of legal action against school districts engaging in anti-immigrant practices, they seem to be taking the possibility seriously.

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30 comments
RCMD
RCMD

wow hard to pick sides .on the humanitarian side poor kids  .but on the tax payers side who pay taxes for the purpose and benefits provided to them and their families .Just because we have they don't does not obligate US citizens to pay for services to none tax payers .It should be a choice, by the tax payers, what the government   should with those dollars .Generations of families have worked and payed for those privileges afforded to them  .If these illegals start to work and pay taxes and show their applications of citizenship ,then it is my believe as well they intend to set roots here and to contribute to those benefits as well .then its ok but if they continue to work pay no taxes and there fore not contribute to the privileges then I say no.The also states you can not have your cake and eat it too !!

Usgovfail
Usgovfail

Fuck the feds, I hope china or iraq nukes the white house. These people are not "undocumented", they are here ILLEGALLY. Illegal is not a race, it is a crime. If I rape mistalee's mother or daughter does that mean we made undocumented intercourse? If I rob a bank does that mean I made an undocumented withdrawl? You mexicans are stupid. You do realize that china iran or iraq, maybe russian will one day invade this country and then who will you turn to for help? You sure as hell won't be able to turn to your pos mexican government. Don't turn to me for help, I'll spit in your face. You think the pos federal government will help you? Hahahaha. They don't care about you, they only care about votes. Fuck mexico.

Jas Wats
Jas Wats

Education is a basic human right now? When did that happen?

Xiangdfe
Xiangdfe

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ASU Honor Student
ASU Honor Student

Arizona needs to understand that denying basic human rights is wrong! They are the laughing stock of the country and I truly hope whoever gets caught denying children the right to attend school are tried in a court of law and given LIFE for being an abomination to America. I am an American citizen and, by God, I am ashamed to call myself one every time I read others are doing such horrific things!

IBMMuseum
IBMMuseum

One particular scenario could be what I experienced: My wife and stepchildren being legally admitted to the United States under K-3 (spouse of a U.S. citizen) and K-4 (stepchild of a U.S. citizen) prior to gaining Legal Permanent Resident status. All 'K' visas are defined as "non-immigrant", so not work-authorized, and with no ability to get Social Security number. Do we just skip a school year before we can enroll the kids as Legal Permanent Residents (when they receive Social Security numbers)?

I had owned the residence we moved into for 6-1/2 years prior to that, and paid property tax into the system without having children at the time. By the same measure, if an undocumented family lives within the school district (proving their residency), property tax is getting paid somewhere. Immigration statuses can change, and schools need to teach every student that shows up at their doors, not police the roster.

concerned : /
concerned : /

And thanks for the great picture accompanying the piece. !

maxx
maxx

Tax payers include undocumented immigrants. Able to pay using an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) provided by the IRS.

concerned : /
concerned : /

Finally some clarification. Denying a child education is a violation of human rights and the simple intimidation is thuggish. The situation is beyond the immigration debate and it is the reals of moral responsibility. But please do not forget the immigrant families share in the cost of education. In Arizona education is funded trough property and sales taxes, both payed by every consumer in Arizona, regardless their immigration status.

bigriggs
bigriggs

And taxpayers continue to pay for law breakers.....

CONCERNED"american" Citizen
CONCERNED"american" Citizen

Russell Pearce and Jan Brewer and Big Nose Arpaio Listen here you are not beyond the federal government so dont go around trying to start any new money wasting bills..Dumbfucks all you do is waste the taxpayers monies..

Mistalee
Mistalee

Time for Bobby the Racist to show up and tell us all how he's not a racist but we should send 'em all back to Mexico.

Ted
Ted

Hey traitor, Mexicans are not stupid, you are!  The right to an education is a basic human right. Too bad you never took advantage of that right to broaden that narrow little mind of yours and improve your own education. You definitely need it very badly.But over time you have regularly and repeatedly demonstrated by your comments that you did not, then proudly display your stupidity like a badge of honor.I have to wonder why anyone would ever go to such an obviously uneducated hate filled traitorous asshole for the time of day, let alone help on anything? Your hate filled rants will one day result in your removal from the scene. I and many others wait expectantly for your demise, you traitorous little shit!

Mark Sawyer
Mark Sawyer

Lots of Latinos in the US military. Mexican Americans join the Marines at a higher rate per capita than any other group in the US. Some of the people serving in Afghanistan and who served in Iraq etc. are green card soldiers etc. They will defend this country just fine and already are you idiot.

Also BTW being here without authorization is not a "crime" in fact it is specifically kept separate from criminal law. So know being here undocumented is not even a misdemeanor and certainly isn't a felony like rape or robbing a bank.

But of course how could you let facts get in the way of your racist hate. I love the way you guys say ridiculously racist things and then try to say "I'm not a racist". Its almost embarrassing. Be proud of it, lots of people are, and it isn't even the worse thing in the world you could be. Being a racist isn't even a crime. Embrace your racism usgovfail. I won't be mad at you, but the racism while denying it really gets my goat.

Concerned"american"citizen
Concerned"american"citizen

LOL you are the funniest person on here..I do feel sad for you..I bet there was a lot of child abuse in your house. Or is this Russell Pearce in disguise..Russell go, andale, vamonos (as Dora the explorer would say)go help your sons before posting on here..Lets all laugh together at USGovfail. Remember you are sending a terrorist threath so be careful in what you say..We don't want the feds knocking on your trailer home and bringing it down ,after all it took you years for you to built those walls of Steel..OKAY all of us together lets laugh at Usgovfails jokes..

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for you, people like you make me a stronger human spirit..

C"mon do you need a hug I bet you do after all the abuse and bigotry that was encountered in your home life as a child..

Come here let me give you a hug it will be okay we do live in a great country and there is help for you..Let's start here and lets mend our differences..

LOL...you are a joke and your rants really make me feel good about myself keep em coming.

Ricosac
Ricosac

It's not human rights, more like the right to an education, no matter who you are.It doesn't make sense that there are countless dumbuck "white" Americans that didn't or don't take advantage of our current educational system, and we want to deny children the same chance only because their parents are illegal? I suppose that's the better option right? Instead of having smart, educated hispanics that can better themselves, and add to society later in life, let's create bills that keep them out of school so we can guarantee that they'll stay uneducated, and stay as our landscapers, janitors, cheap help, or have to turn drug dealer cause that's the only thing they'll be able to do. Oh yeah, I forgot that we got people complaining about how Mexicans are taking up all these "American" jobs.

teknik1200
teknik1200

why are you not outraged at the thefts that occur by our elected officials? and the tax give aways to people who don't need it?

Jason
Jason

They won't listen to you. They'll continue to push for these "immigration reform" bills because the dimwitted voters of Maricopa County and Arizona elected them to do nothing more than purge the state of the criminal illegals.

Kit Carson
Kit Carson

There's nothing racist about enforcing the law. If one is an unauthorized immigrant than one is likely to deserve being deported.

The left/ progressive movement doesn't oppose enforcement of existing law; instead, it opposes the creation of wackjob legislation that impinges on the rights of those lawfully here (including our citizens), creates an undue burden on the state or is, in truth, just thinly vieled racism and hate.

No one should oppose the lawful enforcement of US law, even if you think the law should be changed. We are a nation of laws.

Mark Sawyer
Mark Sawyer

What I love is how they always begin and end with "the racist hate I either just spewed or am about to isn't really racist." When did being a racist become the worst thing a person could be? I wish racists would simply be proud of it.

Ted
Ted

You can call it criminal, but illegal immigration is a civil infraction in the federal code. So even detaining these people in US Prisons is actually illegal on it's face I would think. A civil violation in city, county and state court might yield a fine, but no jail time to my knowledge.

Mark Sawyer
Mark Sawyer

Jason on your comment, "I do not support illegal immigration". Do you not realize no one but sleazeball employers and smugglers "supports" illegal immigration? People who want reform recognize that over the last decades our economy demanded large numbers of immigrations 100's of times over the number of visas that were available. People say they should have got in line, there was no line for low wage workers to get into!

These people contributed to our growth, built lives here and became vital parts of our social and economic fabric. They pay taxes of all kinds, and many of their children are citizens. No one benefits by them living in the shadows but racists, criminals and employers. The racists only benefit psychologically because even they are worse off by the folks not participating more fully in the system and being able to not be cheated by employers and others.

So no one "supports" illegal immigration. We support the rights of migrants and having a rational system that recognizes that we depended on these people's labor for a long time and ran a system of smoke and mirrors for the benefit of employers mostly. We also benefit when we go to a grocery store, or a restaurant etc.

We support a rational immigration policy that makes full tax paying members of people who are already living here and contributing to our society, and reduces illegal immigration by pegging visas to demand for immigrants in the economy etc. And the demand is finite. Not everyone in Mexico wants to come to the US etc. If border crossing was not such a high cost some people would go back.

Further, their US citizen kids are our future. Educating them will mean who will be working to support you when you are taking your dinner from a straw. Were it not for immigrants we would be like some of the countries in Western Europe who have no younger generation to work to support the old generation that is retiring. That is a recipe for decline.

So get it straight. No one supports illegal immigration. We support rational immigration policies that would make this mad system a thing of the past and boost the US economy. IRCA in 1986 was a huge economic stimulus as people with rights earn, and consume more and are also more productive because they are less constrained. But these are "facts" can't let those get in the way of a good hate fest.

Joeserrano
Joeserrano

XSoldier you are still an ignorant racist dumbfuck.. You are a supporter of getting rid of Arpaio, yet you support his 'Hispanic' round ups..?

You need to change your last name from being a Hispanic one all together as 'Marquez' is not fitting a redneck racist like you..? You think Jason..?

Jason
Jason

Agreed and well said.

mirele
mirele

Uh, the law (as interpreted by the Supreme Court) says that immigration status is no bar to public education in America.

Of course, there are lots of people who would like to see undocumented children not educated--not because they think these kids are ever going back to Mexico, but because they do like the idea of a perpetual underclass, willing to work for peanuts.

Jason
Jason

"These people contributed to our growth....."

By ruining someone else's life! The illegals commit ID theft to obtain work because they have no Social Security # of their own.

They fraudulently pay taxes with work fraudulently obtained. They also obtain tax refunds fraudulently when they get their W-2's in January.

"Their children are our future."

Bullshit. YOUR children are the future of America. All the illegals are good for is scamming the system. YOUR children can enter the military, YOUR children can attend a good college. The illegals? CAN'T!

I fully support legal immigration to the United States. We have rules that people need to follow to actually be worthy of the title American citizen. The illegals do not follow our rules and you think we should bend over backwards to help their sorry useless brown asses gain admittance into the United States because we're supposed to feel sorry for them? I, for one, do not feel sorry for them. They chose to make a decision which is an illegal one by entering the United States unlawfully. Too bad so sad for them.

Jason
Jason

Also, in addition to my last post replying to your pathetic sorry ass, a Texas Congressman is trying to change the 14th Amendment. You know, the amendment that provides birthright citizenship, due process and equal protection under the law. Oh wait, I forgot, you live under a rock so you wouldn't know.

Jason
Jason

Did you even read my post you self-serving asshole? Yes I support booting Joe. I NEVER said I support his Hispanic round-ups. I think they are a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. He could make MCSO more efficient by going after the REAL criminals. Remember, there are 50,000 outstanding unserved felony warrants in Maricopa County which Joe is responsible for.

BTW, my last name is of Portuguese descent and I am Irish/Italian. I merely made the point that in the last election cycle, unless you were living under a rock, which, apparently, you do, the registered voters in Arizona elected all Republicans into office because they promised to be tough on the illegals. Hell, even President Obama isn't relenting going after the illegals. Deportations are even higher under his administration. And he's a Democrat.

Sounds to me like I am not a racist redneck. Even if I was, I am proud to be born in the South, I am damn proud of my heritage, and I do not support illegal immigration. You can go back to living under your rock now. You will never make it in the real world.

Jrs685
Jrs685

If they are receiving paychecks, doesn't that mean that they are getting taxed on their income? Let me clue you in, YES! Since they don't have a legal social security number, illegals also can not claim their tax deduction. That's money into our economy. All else aside, maybe we should deny illegals their right to inadequate public school education. 

Rugdav001
Rugdav001

You starting your sentence with "Uh" shows your ignorance starting to come out, and the rest of what you push shows the rest. Our school districts claim to be struggling with expenses already, but ignorant people like yourself feel we should support the illegal immigrants and add to that burden. If they are illegals then their parents are not even paying taxes to help support their own burdens they add to our society. There are many people who have had their social security number fraudulently used, and then required to pay the taxes which haven't been paid. Did you stop and think how these illegals get a paycheck at that meat packing plant without having legal papers allowing them to work here? They are not all being paid under the table, so they have to use someones number. Maybe if it was yours you would feel a bit different. So to make people feel like they are 'a good person' we have to give free food, medical, education, housing, etc. While our own citizens do without, because they wouldn't, as a whole, work for less or illegally with someone else's ID and then collect welfare at the same time. 

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