A group of Democrats in Congress have written to the Trump Administration asking them to offer clear guidance on the rights of undocumented immigrants in education. The letter, addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, expresses “concern” that recent changes to immigration policy and actions by enforcement officers have created “fear, anxiety, and confusion in immigrant communities around the country” which are impacting school attendance and student learning.
The letter’s authors note that the Supreme Court has, in Plyer v. Doe, ruled it unconstitutional to deny any child access to a public education, regardless of a student’s or parent’s immigration status. They cite guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in 2011 and 2014 following the Plyer case. However, they say, there is concern given changes to immigration policy that this guidance may no longer be considered applicable. They therefore ask ED as well as the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue new guidance to States and districts telling them “that their legal obligations under this ruling and the Constitution have not changed.”
The lawmakers also ask the agencies to reassure them that enforcement action will not be taken at schools – this has long been a stated policy for DHS, but recent video of a father being arrested outside his daughter’s California school, as well as the sweeping nature of recent immigration directives, have thrown that into question.