The Obama administration pointedly told American public schools on Thursday that they must enroll the children of illegal immigrants despite little to nothing in the way of legitimate documentation concerning how old the kids are or where they live.
The lecture came from Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, according to a Department of Justice press release obtained by The Daily Caller.
In their joint statement, Holder and Duncan announced updated federal guidance informing officials at taxpayer-funded K-12 schools about new, federally permissible enrollment practices. The updated guidance stresses the need for flexibility in choosing which documents illegal immigrant parents can submit to show a child’s age or whether the child actually even lives within a school’s attendance boundary.
The new guidance specifically stresses that school districts cannot require certain legal documents including a parent’s state-issued driver’s license any time it might prevent a child from enrolling because of a parent’s illegal immigration status.
“The message here is clear,” Duncan said. “Let all children who live in your district enroll in your public schools.”
“Three decades ago, the Supreme Court issued a historic ruling – in the case of Plyler v. Doe – that legislation denying children an education based on immigration status ‘does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice,'” said Holder in remarks delivered on Thursday.
Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 case, was a class action, filed on behalf of a group of school-aged Mexican children in Smith County, Texas who could not establish that they had been legally admitted to the United States.
Justice William Brennan wrote the Court’s 5-to-4 majority ruling.
The slim majority concluded that a Texas law preventing the children of illegal immigrants from attending public schools was unconstitutional because denying the children basic education contributes to “the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries.” Thus, The Lone Star State could not show that the law served a “substantial state interest” — the legal lingo for the constitutional test applied in cases involving illegal aliens.
“Sheer incapability or lax enforcement of the laws barring entry into this country, coupled with the failure to establish an effective bar to the employment of undocumented aliens, has resulted in the creation of a substantial ‘shadow population’ of illegal migrants – numbering in the millions – within our borders,” Brennan, a leader of the Court’s liberal wing, wrote.
On Thursday, Holder went on to say that the federal government has “continued to hear troubling reports of actions taken by school districts around the country that have a chilling effect on student enrollment, raising barriers for undocumented children and children from immigrant families who seek to receive the public education to which they are entitled.”
The attorney general said his department will now double down on ensuring that illegal immigrant children are allowed to attend taxpayer-funded American schools.
“Public school districts have an obligation to enroll students regardless of immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin,” Holder proclaimed. “The Justice Department will do everything it can to make sure schools meet this obligation. We will vigilantly enforce the law to ensure the schoolhouse door remains open to all.”
Holder also invoked Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case declaring that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students are unconstitutional, in support of the rights of the children of illegal immigrants to attend public schools despite a lack of documentation concerning age or address.