One in five school districts in New York State is routinely asking for student’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) compiled a list of 139 districts and although they have not yet found any children turned away they fear many undocumented students may be discouraged from enrolling due to fear of being reported to immigration authorities.
In its 9 month investigation the NYCLU identified some practices that it considers “unintentional barriers” like requiring a social security number, to those considered “blatantly discriminatory,” like the regulation demanding noncitizen children to show a resident alien card.
The states education law which mandates free public education for all residents ages 5 to 21 permits districts to require documents that prove age and residency but does not have any additional requirements. 30-year-old Supreme Court ruling mandates that immigration status cannot be used to deny children access to a public education.
The NYCLU has contacted the identified school districts to advise them that their registration policies are discriminatory and unconstitutional.