Updated: May 18
Policies have risen by conservative politicians in order to continue to strip away more rights from marginalized communities. This push to challenge the Supreme Court’s guarantee of public education for all children has been recently signaled by Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, who is afraid that president Biden’s administration’s decision to lift Title 42 would be detrimental to the economy of Texas.
What is Title 42?
Title 42 was a pandemic-era policy that was enacted that allowed Border patrol to turn away hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to enter the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past two years.
Governor Greg Abbott claims that the ending of a pandemic-era policy, (even though many political leaders choose to act like the pandemic is over now), will only bring an influx of immigrants across the border that is “unsustainable and unavoidable.”. This remark was made at a campaigning event in Houston, on a San Antonio-based conservative radio program called, “The Joe Pags Show.”. During this same broadcast, Abbott mentioned that he solution to this issue that would come with providing humanitarian support at the border and easing up on immigration could only be solved with one remark. Abbot mentioned that the only way to solve this issue is to revisit the landmark 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe, which struck down a Texas law that denied state funding to educate noncitizens.
What is Plyer v Doe?
What is Plyer v Doe?
In Plyer v Doe, four immigrant families had sued the Tyler Independent School District for expelling their children when they could not provide birth certificates. This landmark decision and win for immigrants as a whole of the nation elaborated that withholding state funds for local school districts that educated children residing in the country without legal permission was a
violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Governor Abbott believes that states need to be able to enforce their own immigration as a whole of the nation elaborated that withholding state funds for local school districts that educated children residing in the country without legal permission was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Governor Abbott believes that states need to be able to enforce their own immigration policies or the federal government should cover the cost of educating undocumented children in public schools. While this argument might be a bit extreme and fueled by nothing other than xenophobia, Abbott continues to attempt to strengthen his argument by making a weak supreme court argument. Abbott mentioned, “The Supreme Court has ruled states have no authority hemselves to stop illegal immigration into the states. However, after the Plyler decision they say,‘Nevertheless, states have to come out of pocket to pay for the federal government’s failure to scure the border.’ So one or both of those decisions will have to go.”
While this policy might come off as terrifying, there is hope due to the countless activists and groups that are fighting to secure the rights of immigrants. For example, last month, a Texas Education Agency lawyer testified before the House Public Education Committee that federal guidance indicates that denying enrollment or attendance based on citizenship status would violate Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Another activist group known as The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, commented on the crisis to reassure immigrants that this issue will be fought for. MALDEF went on to state,
“[W]hile the Supreme Court split on the constitutionality of the Texas statute challenged in Plyler, all of the justices, including then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist, agreed that the Texas law seeking to exclude undocumented children from school was bad public policy,” said Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president, and general counsel. “All justices recognized the folly in excluding certain kids from school; ubiquitous truancy laws embody this well-supported notion. Abbott now seeks to inflict by intention the harms that nine justices agreed should be avoided 40 years ago.”
It is also important to note the amount of funding that Texas invests on average per student, in comparison to the national average per-student expenditure. Texas does not track the citizenship status of students. Therefore, it is unclear how many undocumented students are enrolled or what the financial impact on Texas public schools is. Texas spends a minimum of $6,160 per student, which lags behind the national average of $12,600 in 2018.
In conclusion, this policy attempted to be pursued by Greg Abbott has only reinforced the xenophobic tendencies and beliefs that this Governor possesses. As we wait on the outcome of Roe v Wade, it is important to remember to reach out to our politicians to encourage the protections and freedoms that immigrants too should possess.
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