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New York - State Reminds Schools Not To Ask About Immigration Status

Published on: September 1, 2010 03:53 PM
By:  NY Times
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New York - The State Education Department has sent school districts a memorandum strongly recommending that they not ask for information that might reveal the immigration status of enrolling students, after a civil liberties group complained that scores of districts were requesting such information in possible violation of federal law.

The memo explained that a 1982 Supreme Court decision had recognized the right of all children, regardless of immigration status, to attend public school as long as they met the age and residency requirements established by state law.

“Accordingly, at the time of registration,” the memo said, “schools should avoid asking questions related to immigration status or that may reveal a child’s immigration status, such as asking for a Social Security number.”

The memo, titled “Student Registration Guidance,” followed months of pressure from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had discovered that some 139 districts - about 20 percent of the total - were requiring children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants could provide. The group repeatedly asked the Education Department to stop those practices.

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While the group did not find any cases in which children had been turned away for lack of immigration paperwork, it worried that the requirements could deter illegal immigrant families from enrolling children for fear that their status might be reported to federal authorities. The requested documents included Social Security cards and resident alien cards.

The state’s education law, which mandates a free public education for all residents ages 5 to 21 who have no high school diploma, allows districts to require documents that prove age and residency, like rental leases, birth certificates, consular identification cards and utility bills. It does not mention immigration-related documents.

The Education Department resisted taking any direct action to advise districts on the law. But after The New York Times published an article on the issue in July, some school districts asked state officials for guidance, and the department decided to issue the memo, a spokesman said.

“Shortly after the story ran, we revisited the issue and felt that it would be helpful to districts to give them more comprehensive guidance,” the spokesman, Jonathan Burman, said Tuesday. The Education Department developed the memo in consultation with lawyers at the civil liberties union, he said.

Asked why the memo stopped short of forbidding districts to request immigration-related documents, Mr. Burman said: “This was developed by our team of lawyers, and vetted and discussed and shared with the N.Y.C.L.U.‘s counsel. So we felt that this was the best, most legally accurate guidance that we could share with the field.”

The civil liberties group applauded the memo. “There’s no question that a strong mandate would’ve been better,” said Udi Ofer, the group’s advocacy director. “But the language included in this guidance makes it clear that school districts must amend their policies to be in compliance with constitutional law.”

Mr. Ofer also warned that the guidance was only as good as its enforcement. “The state must aggressively monitor the enrollment practices of the school districts,” he said. If not, he warned, “surely the problem will continue.”


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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 01, 2010 at 04:26 PM Anonymous Says:

The supreme court has ruled several times that states and localities cannot deny access to health and educational services to undocumented aliens. Thus, there is no reason why any local school board would should even consider asking for information about the immigration status of students who want to go to school. If you disagree with that policy, than seek to have the courts reconsider their prior rulings.

2

 Sep 01, 2010 at 04:49 PM Michel Says:

Why dont the States change the law and only allow free education to citizens? Illegals can get educated too, if they pay. Remember welfare? All the druggies and society rejects flooded the biggest states with the most generous welfare packages and almost bankrupted them. Then Federal /State legislation reformed welfare and suddenly they found jobs or left the state. Same thing with illegals. Why, why, why are we paying to educate their children with 20k a year education value??

3

 Sep 01, 2010 at 05:22 PM Anonymous Says:

This is ACLU run riot. Why are we doing anything to protect illegality or crime? I do not want this of my elected officials, and not from the judiciary either. I consider this legislating from the bench, and I have promised to vote for any candidates who oppose that practice.

REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER.

4

 Sep 01, 2010 at 05:52 PM charliehall Says:

#2,

Are you out of your mind? Do you want an uneducated underclass in this country???

#3,

This has nothing to do with crime, these are children!

This is midot Sedom!!!

5

 Sep 01, 2010 at 06:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Says:

This is ACLU run riot. Why are we doing anything to protect illegality or crime? I do not want this of my elected officials, and not from the judiciary either. I consider this legislating from the bench, and I have promised to vote for any candidates who oppose that practice.

REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER.

Yops school in postville didn't require to ask but rubaskin got 27 years for not asking

6

 Sep 01, 2010 at 06:13 PM Anonymous Says:

I should have known Charlie Hall would spout his Marxist garbage. No, I DO NOT WANT ILLEGAL KIDS USING MY TAX DOLLARS. Let there be fewer low-lives in the system & the ones who have a right to everything this country has to offer might actually succeed.

7

 Sep 01, 2010 at 06:14 PM Anonymous Says:

PS...all the kids in MY class are (Jewish) immigrants! I shouldn't ask them which former communist country they come from? G-d forbid!

8

 Sep 01, 2010 at 06:59 PM Anonymous Says:

#4

No problem with educating the children. But we are also teaching them that their parents who are illegally in our country can get away with breaking the law. Is that justifiable? Should out tax dollars go for this "bad" education?

9

 Sep 01, 2010 at 09:37 PM Anonymous Says:

we pay taxes so there can be free education to all Americans who are here in this country legally.. Why should my taxes pay for illegal aileans who steal all our benefits and drain the american economy??/

10

 Sep 01, 2010 at 11:57 PM charliehall Says:

#5,

Shalom Rubashkin has never been tried on immigration charges; he was convicted on financial charges.

#9,

Illegal immigrants actually benefit the US economy; they do work that we who are here legally won't do (such as at Agriprocessors); they pay taxes but rarely if ever get government welfare or even social security; their children are often US citizens.

And Jews of all people should be sensitive to illegal immigrants. During the 1930s, Jews were desperate to get out of Europe -- to anywhere -- and would often try to go illegally to any place that was safe. Would you have deported them back to Germany or Poland? Conditions in parts of Mexico and Central and South America are horrific today, with some cities turned into target practice areas for drug gangs. Would you send your mother back to that?

Sedom was overturned because of its treatment of immigrants; we don't want that to happen to the US!

11

 Sep 02, 2010 at 01:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
charliehall Says:

#5,

Shalom Rubashkin has never been tried on immigration charges; he was convicted on financial charges.

#9,

Illegal immigrants actually benefit the US economy; they do work that we who are here legally won't do (such as at Agriprocessors); they pay taxes but rarely if ever get government welfare or even social security; their children are often US citizens.

And Jews of all people should be sensitive to illegal immigrants. During the 1930s, Jews were desperate to get out of Europe -- to anywhere -- and would often try to go illegally to any place that was safe. Would you have deported them back to Germany or Poland? Conditions in parts of Mexico and Central and South America are horrific today, with some cities turned into target practice areas for drug gangs. Would you send your mother back to that?

Sedom was overturned because of its treatment of immigrants; we don't want that to happen to the US!

The nice and warm feeling are all good and fine - and is even what defines and elevates a yid as 'rachamanim, bayshanim, and gomlei chassadim' - but our responsibility to behave sympathetically to everyone no matter the circumstance cannot, and should not, be carried over to government.
If you want to look at the chessed model, the possuk says 'efes ki lo yihye bicha evyon', and it is simply unsustainable to have all the feel alive but brain dead policies that liberals would like us to have.
Imagine the open borders and 'free everything' policies that bleeding hearts would want to implement was actually implemened, how long until the country is totally bankrupt?!

12

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