MALDEF Applauds Federal Action To Ensure That Every Child Has Access To Public Education

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, Statement on Last Week's Letter Issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a joint "Dear Colleague" letter directing state and local educational agencies to enroll all children living in their districts, regardless of actual or perceived status of student or parent. Nearly thirty years after the Supreme Court decided that the right to public education may not be denied or abridged on the basis of immigration status, last week's letter is the first federal guidance on the rights established in Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court case that MALDEF pursued against Texas schools seeking to demand tuition of undocumented children.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, issued the following statement in response to last week's "Dear Colleague" Letter:

"Last week's federal guidance is a welcome and critical step toward ensuring that the constitutional rights recognized by the United States Supreme Court nearly thirty years ago in Plyler v. Doe are honored everywhere. With an increasingly hostile environment for immigrant Latinos as unscrupulous politicians demonize the undocumented for temporary political gain, the federal guidance is a critical reminder that the right to an education is sacrosanct. Every child has the right to attend public school, and those who would seek to deter or deny enrollment by requesting information on immigration status violate bedrock national principles and risk costly enforcement litigation. Chilling enrollment of any child in school is immoral and illegal conduct."

To view the joint "Dear Colleague" letter, as well as the associated federal "Fact Sheet" and "Questions and Answers," click here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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