According to the American Immigration Council, each year approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States.  The National School Boards Association (“NSBA”) has released updated guidance on serving undocumented students, including advice on what you should do if ICE comes to your campus.  The document is titled, “Lifting the Lamp Beside the Schoolhouse Door:  A Legal Guide to Serving Undocumented Students in Public Schools.

The guidance document is largely premised on the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Plyer v. Doe which recognized that, in the United States, undocumented children have a constitutional right to receive a free public education from kindergarten to 12th grade.   Under Plyer, it is a violation of the constitution to require a student to prove that he or she is a U.S. citizen in order to enroll in public school.

State law also plays into how school administrators should handle undocumented students. NSBA mentions Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s statement issued last year against sanctuary cities, arguing that they impact public safety.  The guide also points out that the Texas Legislature recently enacted Senate Bill 4, which expands law enforcement’s ability to investigate a suspect’s immigration status.

We recommend school administrators take the time to read this timely and comprehensive guidance as many communities will likely deal with this sensitive issue in the upcoming school year.

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