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Perhaps one in thirty students in California's public K-12 schools resides in the United States illegally. In official terms, these students are "undocumented." (Some prefer the term "unauthorized.") Some of these students, brought to America by parents or relatives, are not aware of their immigration status.
The 14th amendment of the US Constitution, adopted in 1868 during the Reconstruction era, established that anyone born in the United States is a US citizen. Today, the 14th amendment is of vital importance in the education system. According to research compiled by Education Trust-West, about one in about every thirty California students is undocumented, but about about 1 in every 8 children in California schools has at least one parent whose immigration status is unauthorized.
Understandably, statistics regarding immigration status can be a bit squishy, but the best estimates suggest that the number of undocumented people in America has been decreasing since the Obama administration.
Citizenship status is not a condition for enrollment in California K-12 schools. All kids must go to school, regardless of their paperwork.
Citizenship status is not a condition for enrollment in California K-12 schools. In 1982 the US Supreme Court ruled in Pyler v. Doe that immigration status cannot serve as a condition for enrollment in American public schools. Access to public education in California is open to all resident students, regardless of immigration status. California law requires kids to be in school, regardless of their paperwork.
To keep kids in school regardless of immigration status, California law protects student information from being delivered to federal immigration enforcement authorities. The California Department of Education advises local school districts that:
Citizenship is not a condition for enrollment in California's system of community and four-year colleges. But until the law changed in 2001, undocumented students had to pay out-of-state tuition rates at these public institutions, even if they had graduated from a California high school.
The California DREAM Act, signed by Governor Brown in 2011, eased access to higher education for undocumented students in California. The law established Jan 1, 2013 as the date when undocumented residents of California could receive state financial aid such as Cal Grants to help cover their college costs. The law also allowed public higher ed institutions in California to provide scholarships and other aid under specific guidelines. Federal financial aid rules still exclude undocumented students from federal financial aid, student loan, and work-study programs, however.
Many undocumented college students who came to the US as children have protections from deportation under the beleaguered Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which also makes these students eligible for work permits. The Obama administration created this policy using an executive order. In 2017 President Trump announced his intention to rescind the order, calling on Congress to act. In 2018 Courts in New York and California issued injunctions against the executive order.
In April 2018 California Attorney General Xavier Becera published a 60-page guidebook with advice and model policies for "sanctuary" schools to protect families from deportation or harassment.
Many education-related organizations offer resources for parents, families and school communities affected by the threat of deportation:
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