Children have a right to access public education, regardless of immigration status!

As the school year comes to a close, some students can’t wait to leave the classroom. Some students, though, are still waiting to get in. Earlier this year, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice along with the North Carolina Justice Center, Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint with the Department of Justice about the struggles of immigrant students to register at K-12 public schools in North Carolina.
The Department of Justice has just released a “Dear Colleagues” letter that responds to the same issues raised in the complaint, particularly the federal law and Supreme Court precedent that make clear children’s right to education regardless of their immigration status. SCSJ is pleased to see the Department of Justice release the guidance, and hopes that school districts in North Carolina will act on it by not delaying registration for immigrant students. As the guidance notes, in 1982, the Supreme Court clearly ruled that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not allow students without legal authorization to be in the US to be excluded from schools simply because of their immigration status, and Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin in public K-12 schools.
Post by SCSJ Attorney Chris Heaney