Feds warn school districts not to ask students for proof of immigration status

As more states, and even school districts, begin taking immigration matters into their own hands, the federal government has issued a warning that school districts are not allowed to ask for proof of immigration status when enrolling students.

As long as students meet age and residency requirements, they must be admitted to public schools, said the feds.

From The New York Times:

Federal officials issued a memorandum to the nation’s school districts on Friday saying it was against the law for education officials to seek information that might reveal the immigration status of children applying for enrollment.

Civil liberties advocates and others have complained in recent months that many school districts are seeking children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite for enrollment. Some state and local officials have also considered bills to require prospective students to reveal their citizenship or immigration status.

“We have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status,” said the memo, from Justice and Education Department officials. “These practices contravene federal law.”

The letter cited a 1982 Supreme Court decision that recognized the right of all children, regardless of immigration status, to attend public school as long as they met the age and residency requirements set by state law.

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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