In the six months since Donald Trump was sworn in as President, the U.S. Government has stepped up efforts to deport individuals who have immigrated to our country. There are about 2.5 million undocumented youth in our country. Their immigration status should not affect their right to be in school.
Immigrant children have a constitutional right to K-12 public education. School districts cannot create a chilling effect on school attendance by requiring a birth certificate, or a social security number, or a copy of a parent’s driver’s license prior to admission. Although school districts are permitted to ask for this information, they cannot require it as a condition of enrollment. Additionally, school districts are prohibited from asking about a child’s or a parent’s immigration status.
In 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) adopted a memo that identified certain “Sensitive Locations” and which currently prohibits ICE from engaging in enforcement activities at those locations. These include schools, hospitals, clinics, places of worship, and public demonstrations. ICE should therefore not be conducting any arrests, interviews, or searches on school grounds. There have been scattered reports, though, of ICE agents staking out positions near schools and intercepting parents as they pick up and drop off their children. Although likely not illegal, these actions imperil immigrant children’s constitutional right to a public education.