A report by Georgetown University Law Center researchers on school districts in four states has found that immigrant children living in the US illegally have been kept from enrolling in school and receiving the educational services they require, reports the Associated Press.
Some districts have arbitrarily interpreted rules for residency and state laws, according to the researchers. The four states focused on for the study were Florida, Texas, New York, and North Carolina.
Even if a child is in the US illegally, he or she has to attend school until the eighth grade or until the age of 16. This education measure is a compulsory law in every state in the nation. The Education Commission of the States said students are allowed to enroll beyond the age of 16 in many states.
There are, however, some districts that manipulate paperwork in such a way as to keep immigrant young people from being admitted to schools. The report also found that translation and interpretation services are often not available, leaving families with no recourse.
Some students are fearful that attending school will result in their deportation based on the 2014 surge of illegal crossings and the government’s efforts to find and send back tens of thousands of Central American children.
‘‘US law is clear on this point — no child in the United States should be excluded from public education,’’ said Mikaela Harris, a Georgetown law student who co-wrote the study issued by the university’s Human Rights Institute and the nonprofit Women’s Refugee Commission. ‘‘That doesn’t always play out in practice.’’
The report emphasizes the need for federal assistance for districts that are not familiar with assisting immigrant populations. The study’s authors said they have shared their recommendations with the US Department of Education.
The Georgetown University report examined the difficulties of accessing education for the 775,000 young people under the age of 18 who are suspected to be living in the US without legal permission using the 2012 Census figures analyzed by the Pew Research Center.
Glenn Minnis, reporting for the Latin Post, quoted Education Department spokeswoman Dorie Nolt:
”We remain vigilant about our responsibility to protect the civil rights of all students, including immigrant students, undocumented students, and unaccompanied immigrant students. We have provided a number of resources to communities in order to do so.”
And US Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Bryan Cox assured the public that ICE does not allow agents to carry out enforcement actions on school property or at other “sensitive” locations.
When the enormous numbers of unaccompanied children arrived in the US as they fled the growing violence in Central America, these youngsters legally required to be in class — and they were also entitled to enroll regardless of the “perceived national origin, citizenship, or immigration status.”
Clark Mindock, reporting for the International Business Times, writes that at the beginning of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided immigrants and especially targeting Central American undocumented immigrants. These raids could explain why some families stayed inside their homes as much as possible and did not attend school or go to work.