The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is blasting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos after she said Tuesday that schools should decide whether to report undocumented students to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Inside the school, if a principal or a teacher finds out that a certain child is undocumented, or his or her family members are undocumented, do you feel that the principal or teacher is responsible to call ICE and to have that family reported?” Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) asked DeVos during her testimony before the House Committee on Education and Workforce.
“Sir, I think that’s a school decision,” DeVos responded. “That’s a local community decision. And again, I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate, and I urge this body to do its job and address or clarify where there is confusion around this.”
In a statement, the ACLU’s Director of Immigration Policy and Campaigns disagreed with DeVos, citing the Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, which makes clear that public schools are obligated by the constitution to provide schooling for children, regardless of their immigration status, The Washington Post reports.
“Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status,” the statement read. “Secretary DeVos is once again wrong.”
The Hill added:
The exchange arrives amid an ongoing immigration debate under the Trump administration, with the president threatening to send leaders of sanctuary cities to jail and an increase in immigration enforcement.
Immigration agents have historically avoided schools, according to the Post. A memo advised agents in 2011 to avoid enforcement activities at “sensitive locations,” which includes schools, hospitals and churches.