Guidelines available for schools on protecting undocumented students
In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that states must provide all students with a free public education, regardless of their immigration status. With that in mind, the California Attorney General’s office has released guidelines to help schools protect undocumented students and families in the face of increased deportation enforcement by the Trump administration.
The new resource guide details how school officials can best respond if students or family members are in danger of deportation or detainment while on campus. It also provides information on how to shield the immigration status of students and families, how to handle requests for information from federal authorities, how to manage school site access for immigration officials and other information. CSBA participated in stakeholder meetings for the drafting of these materials. CSBA’s related sample policies will be released in May.
The guidelines and related handouts come as the Trump administration has intensified its efforts to curb immigration and ramp-up deportations. This week President Trump declared DACA “dead,” and proposed sending the military to guard the United States’ border with Mexico. United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions meanwhile said he is considering changes in the legal system to speed up court hearings on immigrants in the country illegally, establish quotas for immigration hearings, and limit the number of people who qualify for asylum.
Such changes could significantly impact many California students and families and the state’s public schools. According to the California Attorney General’s office, roughly 250,000 students enrolled in California public schools do not have legal documentation to be in the country and 750,000 statewide have a parent who is living in the country illegally. Many of the undocumented students have benefitted academically. New research shows DACA, which protects undocumented students from deportation, has boosted high school graduation rates of undocumented immigrant youth by 15 percent. The state also has 5,000 teachers who are DACA recipients.
"Every student, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to feel safe and secure at school,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “In California, nearly half of all children have at least one immigrant parent. It’s our duty as public officials and school administrators to uphold the rights of these students so that their education is not disrupted.”