BY ISN STAFF | April 19, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Recent raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have had a chilling effect on the education of recently arrived children – including those seeking asylum from the violence in Central America – according to a report published today by Georgetown University Law School’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) and the Women’s Refugee Commission.The report, Ensuring Every Undocumented Student Succeeds: A Report on Access to Public Education for Undocumented Children, found that a lack of awareness and resources in public school systems create obstacles to school enrollment for undocumented children.
“U.S. law is clear on this point – no child in the United States should be excluded from public education,” said Mikaela Harris, a Georgetown University law student and co-author of the report. “What we found is that that doesn’t always play out in practice.”
One social worker recounted the story of a 13-year-old who loves school but is now afraid to wait outside for the bus. Another advocate made clear that a lot of children are dropping out because they are scared to even try to go to school.
The report calls for districts and schools to eliminate policies that discriminate against undocumented students and inhibit their education, and for both ICE and educational bodies to develop policies that protect a child’s access to education from the chilling effects of ICE raids.
“Our research identified violations of both U.S. and international law in providing educational opportunities for these children,” said Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission.
“Discouraging undocumented children from enrolling or otherwise discriminating against them in the public education system contradicts our country’s fundamental values of providing equal opportunity for all,” said Caitlin Callahan , a Georgetown University law student and co-author of the report.
HRI is the focal point of human rights at Georgetown Law and helps ensure its place as a center of excellence in human rights teaching and training as well as in producing policy-relevant and influential human rights ideas and research.
The Women’s Refugee Commission improves the lives and protects the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. The organization researches their needs, identifies solutions and advocates for programs and policies to strengthen their resilience.
A copy of the report is available here.