By Wai Man Wang ‘15
Attorney General Eric Holder, along with Educational Secretary Arne Duncan, announced on May 8, 2014 that schools cannot deny children rights to attend school if the child is considered an undocumented immigrant. This new guideline, is based off the Supreme Court case Plyer v. Doe, which did not allow a Texas school to charge illegal students money for education, will be a huge step in securing the literacy of all students in America.
This new guideline will prevent schools from asking parents of either undocumented children or undocumented U.S. born children for documents like Social Security numbers and driver licenses to discourage parents from enrolling their children at a school. According to usatoday.com, the announcement came along with examples of different documentations that parents can use to enroll their children, such as a utility bill or mortgage document. State issued identification cards or driver licenses are not required. Like most new bills that are passed, this new guideline gathered both outrage and praise from several different communities. More enthusiastic supporters deemed this new guideline as a pathway for American success, while outraged citizens believe educating undocumented residents is a waste of time, money and effort.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s reminder that schools need to educate both documented and undocumented immigrants is one of the many instances that show that children should not be punished for the crimes that their parents have committed. America is known as the land of opportunity, and it is never too late to educate a child in order for that child to one day attain full citizenship. In addition, citizenship is not easily attainable in the U.S. According to usatoday.com, the application process is long, and even that doesn’t guarantee full U.S. citizenship. First, green card holders must spend approximately $680 for a naturalization application, which can only be attainable after living in the U.S. for five years or three years if married to a U.S. citizen. In addition, not everyone who applies for citizenship can be accepted as there is a limit to how many citizens the U.S. can admit. After all that, as well as a round of interviews and questions testing their understanding of the American government can they finally become a naturalized citizen.
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, advocates against illegal immigration. Beck, and those who have similar opinions, fail to realize the important of illegal immigrants within the U.S. and the innocence of the children of undocumented parents. They should realize that although it seems as if educating undocumented children is a waste of time, in reality, they can benefit the U.S. economy if they are able to attain citizenship in the future. According to teachers.scholastic.com, educated students who later have the skills to work in high paying jobs lead to more taxes, thus more money to spend. Those who are uneducated work in less desirable jobs in America’s workforce, such as construction, housekeeping, serving, and textile production.
A common misconception about illegal immigrants is that they don’t pay taxes. However, illegal immigrants, according to roygermanno.com, pay taxes like everyone else through fake social security numbers or social security numbers of the deceased. According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants paid $10.6 billion dollars in taxes in 2010. In addition, although they spend years paying taxes, they did not get the same benefits as legitimate taxpayers because their social security numbers are fake, thus they do not receive Medicare nor they get to reclaim their money after they retire.
Since there are so many undocumented children that make up such a vital part of the American population, it is the responsibility of school districts not to turn them away, but to educate them and welcome them to be part of an essential role of American society and workforce.
By Wai Man Wang ‘15