NY Atty Gen Compels 20 Districts to Stop Asking Students about Immigration Status

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman address a news conference in his in New York offices, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reached a record $13 billion settlement with federal and state authorities, resolving claims over the bank's sales of low-quality, high-risk mortgage-backed securities that collapsed …
AP Photo/Richard Drew

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has compelled 20 New York school districts to no longer ask students about their immigration status, ensuring that students will be enrolled in those districts even if they are not lawfully in the country.

On Thursday, New York’s attorney general’s office announced the districts agreed to “eliminate inquiries into citizenship/immigration” after a series of investigations into enrollment procedures. The attorney general’s office noted that the investigations of the district policies initially “focused upon four counties in the New York City metropolitan area that have experienced a significant influx of unaccompanied minors from Central and South America and has since expanded to other parts of the state” before expanding to more counties.

There were 5,955 illegal immigrant juveniles released in New York from October 2013 to September 2014 and another 486 from October 2014 to December 2014, according to statistics from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The 20 districts were found using “enrollment information that included the following kinds of unlawful inquiries,” including copies of Social Security cards, provision of Social Security numbers, disclosure of visa status, visa expiration dates, status as a green card/passport holder, and status as a U.S. citizen/non-citizen. “

Schneiderman’s office “determined that each of these inquiries was inconsistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Plyer v. Doe,” which guaranteed equal protection under the law for illegal immigrant students, and “was likely to, or could potentially, chill or discourage undocumented students from enrolling in the districts.”

“Schoolhouse doors must be open to all students in our diverse state, regardless of their immigration status,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “More than 30 years after the Supreme Court guaranteed a free public education for undocumented children, we must do everything we can to uphold the law and ensure equal access for all our students.”

The New York attorney general’s office said the districts agreed to “modify their enrollment materials” to “eliminate inquiries into citizenship/immigration” and develop new “training materials addressing permissible and impermissible inquiries in the enrollment process, including acceptable forms of proof of age and residency in that process, as well as annual training for relevant district personnel.”

Other requirements will include record-keeping “for district denials of student enrollment, and regular reporting to the Attorney General concerning such denials, until June 2018.”