U.S. Law Center

Threats to public education for immigrant children

One of the reasons people may want to move to California and elsewhere in the United States from other countries is to take advantage of educational opportunities for their children. When one or more of the family members does not have proper documentation, there are many possible scenarios that could create a roadblock to schooling. The barriers may be even greater when it is the children themselves who are undocumented.

According to the National Education Association, federal law mandates public education for every child, regardless of immigration status. However, many school systems are not aware of their responsibilities to these children under the law, or they lack instruction in how to become compliant. Others exploit the natural barriers immigrant children may face such as being behind several grades, or being unable to understand English. Some school administrators point out that enrolling these students may affect the school’s testing scores and graduation rates, which may cost them funding.

The Atlantic reports that fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and deportation may be one of the biggest obstacles immigrant children face preventing them from receiving the education that is their due. Although it is against the law for schools to share student records, and ICE states that the agency does not pursue undocumented children through the school system, there have been reports of illegal information gathering methods in the past.

In Los Angeles, officials are working to ensure that principals understand the law and protect undocumented students and their parents from prohibited discrimination, detention and deportation.

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