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Protections for Undocumented Students


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The importance of educational systems for undocumented students For many, it is obvious that education is an important resource that prepares students professionally and personally. However, access to educational systems is especially important for undocumented students because these systems make it possible for them to have the necessary resources to defend their rights.


In the United States, immigration laws are constantly changing, a reality that presents undocumented students with practical and legal challenges. Despite this, undocumented students' classmates, educators, and community members have a shared obligation to protect their peers from discrimination, intimidation, and violation of civil liberties.


The following are several laws that include protections for undocumented students:


  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: This act generally prohibits public schools and districts from releasing certain student information, including immigration status, without prior consent.

  • Plyler v. Doe (1982): In this case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the imposition of tuition fees on students who did not have the documentation to prove their citizenship was unconstitutional and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment . With this decision, the court presented a legal precedent to make free access to K-12 public schools a constitutional right for everyone, regardless of immigration status.

  • Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Among many other things, this program has opened important avenues for standardization, visibility and access to education for young immigrants and undocumented residents. DACA has also given thousands of young immigrants the opportunity to obtain legal status, education, work, and freedom from legal persecution.


What can educational institutions do to protect and support undocumented students? Although there are various laws, policies, and programs that include protections for undocumented students, there are many cases where these legal acts are not enough to ensure that undocumented students truly feel safe, empowered, and cared for on campus. Some ways that students' classmates, educators, and community members can support undocumented students include:


  • Schools can explore different cultural issues in a positive way. Hosting student events, guest speakers, and seminars with a focus on immigrant rights can foster useful dialogue among community members and raise campus-wide awareness of the issues undocumented students face helps ease their struggles.

  • In addition to outlining the rights of undocumented students, administrators must implement inclusive university policies and provide links to support groups and networks, institutions and individuals must promote these resources through a specific and public outreach.

  • Colleges that provide multilingual counselors, financial aid officers, admissions staff, and educators can create more than just a sense of inclusion.


How educational institutions can help protect the DACA program Today, the DACA program and the rights of “Dreamers” (DACA recipients) are constantly changing, causing much concern and fear among immigrant communities. Most recently, a Texas judge suspended applications for new DACA applicants. In times like this, there are several ways that educators and educational institutions can use their influence to do the following to help ensure a future in which DACA recipients and undocumented youth are supported and protected:


  • Make public statements in support of the DACA program and DACA recipients.

  • Share and expand the stories of students, educators and faculty who have DACA (with their consent) and showcase the work of students on campus who advocate for DACA and Dreamers.

  • Talk to senators and insist that they adopt and pass the Dreams and Promises Act, which provides a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, other undocumented youth, and holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

  • Communicate with USCIS and express opposition to ongoing efforts to undermine protections for DACA recipients.



Mil Mujeres and DACA

In the fight to advance the rights of undocumented students, the advocacy of organizations like Mil Mujeres is very important. Each year, Mil Mujeres assists many families with legal advice, assists immigrants with their DACA application, and advocates for the legal rights of undocumented students who have been victims of citizen discrimination. For more information on how we can help, visit the “Contact” section on our website, call us at (202) 808 3311 or write to us at info@milmujeres.org.