POSTED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 4:51pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 9, 2014 - 8:54am
HIDALGO COUNTY, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — In a joint release Thursday, the Justice Department and the Department of Education issued guidelines on how children ought to be enrolled in schools.
Its aim was to end discrimination based on immigration status.
It reads, "all children in the United States are entitled to equal access to a basic public elementary and secondary education regardless of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, citizenship, immigration status."
It goes on to say any school districts that prohibit or discourage children from enrolling in schools because of citizenship are violating federal law.
This is a response to bills passed in Alabama and Arizona. Those laws required parents who were enrolling their children to prove immigration status.
The legal grounds to deny discrimination goes back to the 1982 case of Plyler v. Doe.
The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that would've allowed districts to forbid undocumented immigrants from enrolling in public schools.
"What the U.S. Department of Education has done is provided additional guidance for school districts when they are enrolling students, to ensure that we're not discriminating against students," said Craig Verley of the Mission CISD.
The only requirement for parents enrolling their children is to bring a proof of age for the child and proof of residency.
The proof of age can include a foreign birth certificate and a proof of residency can be utility bills, leases or a current state-issued ID.
There are instances of Mexican children who use a relative's United States address to enroll in school. The relative would then need to show custody over the child.
"We do ask for appropriate paperwork from the parent handing over those custodial responsibilities to the relative," Verley said.
The Region One Education Service Center, which oversees the Rio Grande Valley, released a statement on Thursday's announcement. It says the federal guidelines are "consistent" with the region's practices and they're "not expected to have a significant impact on schools in the region."