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All immigrant children have the right to public education

Young people and families who leave their homes in foreign countries in order to take up residence in the Miami area often have many obstacles in making the trip. For those who are unable to achieve legal status once they arrive, the challenges that follow may be just as difficult as the initial journey. However, the National Education Association points out that although undocumented children and teen immigrants may not be able to find work because of their status, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that they are entitled to an education in the nation’s public school system.

Researchers have discovered that many schools do discriminate against students in spite of the law. While some refuse or discourage enrollment directly, others simply create effective barriers through lack of communication. Some withhold essential support or programming that would meet the needs of this population and make it possible for them to succeed. A recent report from the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute states that there are roughly 770,000 undocumented minors who should be allowed to enroll in public schools.

The Equal Educational Opportunities Act specifically states that schools are required to eliminate rather than take advantage of language barriers. Discrimination and segregation based on factors such as national origin, race and descent are illegal, and children should not be treated differently because of their background, their ages or where they are from.

Deportation is always a threat for those who do not have the documentation they need to stay in the country. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims that officials do not target schools unless there is a serious situation that demands it. However, the threat of raids at schools is still present, as well as the possibility of being picked up by ICE agents while on the way to and from school. Experts recommend that public school officials seek to educate themselves about their requirements under the law in order to facilitate rather than block the rights of undocumented children.

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