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Ensuring Every Undocumented Student Succeeds: Access to Public Education for Undocumented Children


The US’s 770,000 undocumented children have the right, and in fact have a legal obligation, to enroll in school. Yet enrollment procedures, post-enrollment services, and the fears of immigration enforcement impede their access.

Undocumented children encounter the following barriers:

  • Rigid documentation requirements
  • Discriminatory practices in testing, grade placement, and prospects of graduation
  • Schools’ and parents’ lack of knowledge of policies for immediate enrollment without documentation
  • Forcible enrollment in alternative schools intended for children with correctional or behavioral needs
  • Schools’ failure to communicate critical information, including report cards, education programs, and disciplinary proceedings
  • Fear and anxiety as a result of ICE’s recent enforcement actions

Recommendations include:

  • Improved dissemination of guidance and training materials to the relevant teachers, registrars, administrators, and officials
  • Evaluation and improvement of policies that may discriminate against undocumented students
  • ICE and educational bodies should develop and implement policies that protect a child’s access to education from the chilling effects of ICE enforcement actions

This report is the culmination of a year-long research project conducted by members of the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute Fact-Finding Project and two attorneys from the Women’s Refugee Commission.

United States Children Asylum Rights and Justice Reports