Which school do you want to support?
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.
Many additional students who (under the 14th amendment to the US Constitution) are themselves US citizens by birth have at least one parent whose immigration status is unauthorized.
Understandably, statistics regarding immigration status can be a bit squishy. The web site of the Pew Hispanic Center includes many useful surveys and sources to help shed light on this complex and changing segment. Although only one in about every thirty California students is undocumented, about one in eight lives in a household with one or more undocumented parents.
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 fact, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1982 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.
California law protects the privacy of undocumented students in a number of ways. To read between the lines in today’s political environment, these measures serve to protect student information from being delivered to federal immigration enforcement authorities. The California Department of Education advises local school districts that:
Citizenship is also 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, further changed the role of immigration status in access to higher education 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.
Many undocumented college students who came to the US as children have protections from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which also makes these students eligible for work permits. The Obama administration created this policy by executive order, and it can be overturned. The future of this protection is uncertain under the Trump administration. Many college presidents have called for continuation of the program. California Universities have pledged to support their undocumented students.
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