Representatives from the National Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, said this week they support the Senate Judiciary Committee bill because it provides comprehensive immigration reform, rather than the House bill and a separate bill that has been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., both of which focus on enforcement.
They applauded the inclusion in the Senate Judiciary Committee bill of a provision that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented youths who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college or participate in military service for at least two years.
They also endorsed the part of the Senate Judiciary Committee bill that offers a way for undocumented workers to become legal.
Ms. Underwood noted that K-12 public schools are obligated under a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision, in Plyler v. Doe, to provide an education to children regardless of their immigration status. “From the school’s perspective of the primary mission of educating the kids, the immigration status of the parent is secondary,” she said.
Peter Zamora, a legislative lawyer for MALDEF, added that legalization for children’s parents could improve parent involvement in schools. “There’s a relationship between government and individuals in this community that is not based on trust,” he said. “Bring this population out of the shadows; have them participate in all facets of American society, including school.”
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The Immigration Debate and Parent Involvement
An article from Education Week (subscription required) discussed the potential impact of proposed immigration legislation on schools. One particularly interesting point was how legislation that would give undocumented immigrants the chance to become citizens could help increase parent involvement in schools. I personally think the language barrier and the lack of translation services is a more important factor in the lack of parent involvement among immigrant parents, but there is no doubt that immigrants would feel more welcome in many parts of American society (and more likely to participate) if they had documents.