Undocumented immigrants often elicit the images of Mexican immigrants illegally crossing the border by car or by foot. Many Americans may also think of the soccer field immigrants at the border of Tijuana and San Diego, or the immigrants running away from the drug lords. While majority of undocumented immigrants in California are from Mexico, there are a number of other countries that have immigrants finding refuge in America that reside in all states. Undocumented immigrants are a wide group that may encompass the following people groups: asylum-seeking refugees, migrants from war torn countries that are not under a refugee status, and those that arrive at our borders hoping for a better life in America than in their home country. While many do come from Central America, the following table illustrates that undocumented immigrants come from many countries around the world.
According to the National Immigration Law Center, an undocumented immigrant is a foreign national who entered the United States without proper documentation usually entering legally as a nonimmigrant but violated the terms of their status by staying in the United States without authorized permission (National Immigration
Law Center, 2003). Now, the Department of Homeland Security categories these undocumented immigrants as “unauthorized immigrants” in legal paperwork.
In 2010, there were approximately 1.23 million children entered the United States (Hoefer, Rytina, & Baker, 2010). Historically, the United States has granted amnesty towards these individuals, while introducing stricter policies in regards to employment. However, in recent years, with the states' budgets on the line, a slew of anti-immigrant laws have emerged into the political arena. Recent controversies in Arizona and Georgia have derived from questions regarding the education of undocumented immigrants in the last several years. This paper will overview several federal and state legislations in regards to an undocumented child's rights to a public education, overview controversial laws that are trying to hinder their right to education, and conclude with the implication of these political decisions on the undocumented child.
Supreme Court case Plyler vs. Doe
In 1982, the United States Supreme Court reviewed a case regarding the education of undocumented Mexican children in Texas (Plyler v. Doe, 1982). Arguments stated that when the school district denied education to these children, the school district violated the children's right under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. However, in 1975, Texas passed a law that stated that school districts have the legal right to withhold state funds for educating unauthorized immigrants. This class action suit was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after the lower courts upheld the school district's decision.
In a tight decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot deny undocumented children the right to have public...