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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, most immigrant students have a right to the same free, public K–12 education as their U.S. citizen peers, regardless of their residency status. Immigrant students are also covered by the same privacy laws that shield citizen students from unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information. In theory, these laws should work together to shield immigrant students from governmental and nongovernmental agents who might act adversely against these students and their families. Despite these apparent protections, immigrant students face special challenges that complicate their pursuit of guaranteed primary and secondary education. Most of these challenges are linked to limits within the logic of Plyler as it relates to federal immigration law. This chapter discusses how conflicts between these laws and their enforcement both define immigrant status and utilize it as a means to facilitate and frustrate access to educational opportunity. Any plausible efforts to minimize these challenges must negotiate this conflict with an eye toward improving immigrants’ access to education and collateral services.

Keywords: Immigrant students, Documented students, Undocumented students, Plyler v. Doe, IIRIRA, Immigration law, FERPA, Access to education

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