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.
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.