Issued jointly with the American Federation of Teachers:
Washington, DC — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ statement that individual schools should decide whether to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they think a student is undocumented will lead to parents keeping their undocumented children at home rather than risking apprehension. This will drive these children underground, making them more vulnerable to many harms including exploitation and human trafficking, as well as deny them education, which is vital to every child’s development and growth, and one of the most important places children learn the skills they need to become functioning members of society.
“The grave harm this policy will cause is profound in how deeply it will affect undocumented children’s access to education and the safe space schools provide,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “There is no question that a child who is not in school and in hiding is at great risk of exploitation and human trafficking. This policy erodes the foundation of schools as being safe spaces to learn, speak freely, and be open to new ideas and people. The lesson this teaches our children is deeply disturbing and an affront to American society.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “Every kid in this country has a right to go to school, regardless of where they were born or their immigration status. When Betsy DeVos suggests that this is a political decision — and that school districts should be able to decide when to report undocumented schoolchildren to ICE — she runs afoul of her civil rights responsibility. She also shows her complete disregard for our students and ignores every educators’ core responsibility: to help children learn, and feel safe and welcome at school.
“DeVos’ opinion opens the door to a world where any immigrant family could be subject to intimidation, and students will be deprived of their right to an education. Secretary DeVos once said that Dreamers had nothing to worry about. Obviously she has made a 180 turn for the worst.”
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990