U.S. schools warned not to deny students over immigration status

Thu May 8, 2014 10:06pm EDT

A schoolteacher, attempts to catch snowflakes while leading her students to a library from school in the Harlem neighborhood, located in the Manhattan borough of New York on January 10, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

A schoolteacher, attempts to catch snowflakes while leading her students to a library from school in the Harlem neighborhood, located in the Manhattan borough of New York on January 10, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

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(Reuters) - The Obama administration on Thursday issued a stern warning to U.S. state and local school districts not to deny enrollment to undocumented immigrant children.

In a joint letter, the U.S. Education and Justice departments said they had become aware of student enrollment practices "that may chill or discourage" participation of students based on their or their parents' "actual or perceived immigration status."

"These practices contravene Federal law," the letter said.

The letter, which updates 2011 guidelines, did not single out districts for criticism. However, practices at some of the nation's districts have been targeted by immigration rights advocates in recent years.

For example, a 2011 Alabama law required the state's schools to get information on immigration status from students and parents. Courts blocked the statute, but meanwhile it reportedly caused some immigrant families to keep their children out of school.

Thursday's letter cited the U.S. Supreme Court's 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, which found that citizen status is irrelevant to the student's right to an elementary and secondary education.

The letter also stressed that districts must not request information from parents and students with the intent or result of denying access to schools based on race, color or nationality, and spelled out what is and is not acceptable.

For example, a district may ask for proof of residency in a district by requesting utility bills. But a district may not bar a student from school because he or she lacks a birth certificate, or has a foreign birth certificate. Schools also cannot require students or parents to provide Social Security numbers, the letter said.

(Editing by Ken Wills)

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Comments (10)
redmerlot wrote:
More lunacy. If your family broke the law and lives here illegally, nobody in that family is entitled to anything. Did the children do anything wrong? No. But why is that relevant. If I sneak into a department store, steal a camera, and then tuck it into my kid’s backpack, should my kid be allowed to leave the store with it?

These children are being given services that they are not entitled to. What the Supreme Court decided in the cited case is wrong, and so is this wrong-headed “shot across the bow” from Obama’s threatening letter.

May 08, 2014 10:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Big2Tex wrote:
Do not ever send your kids to the socialist indoctrination centers AKA public schools. Illegals are illegals and should be treated as such. Deportation for all. Secure the borders. Or as an alternative, send them all to Chicago, the lost city.

May 08, 2014 10:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MonitorLizard wrote:
When I enrolled in school, my parents had to produce proof of my US citizenship. Why is the US Prez being so lax about this? Oh, I get it–he did make a statement that being president he could do anything he wants. Yeah, I get it.

May 09, 2014 8:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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