School Forms Include Questions About Immigration Status, Raise Concerns

September 10, 2006

Source: The Washington Post

On September 10, 2006 The Washington Post reported, "A few weeks back, Linda Singh picked up the registration packet from her local school district. There, at the bottom of the first page, was the question regarding birthplace, followed by: 'If not USA, date entered USA.' It set off alarm bells for Singh, who is of Irish ancestry and married to an Indian immigrant, with five U.S.-born children. She feared that this was another school district trying to figure out the immigration status of its students. She alerted the Sikh temple where her family goes, and they drew up fliers notifying parents that they did not have to answer immigration questions. She called civil liberties advocates. Then, armed with legal citations, she attended a recent school board meeting and would not back down. 'I feel like it concerns me because this is my town,' Singh said. 'If I don't make a stand in my back yard, then what's next?' Scores of New Jersey school districts are stirring unease among immigrant parents by asking them to provide immigration-related information when they register their children for school. Fourteen years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that cities and towns must provide education for all students, regardless of immigration status. The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union conducted a survey in the past few weeks and found that 57 schools and district offices request immigration-related information or a student's Social Security number for school registration. The advocacy group, which surveyed 224 schools, said such questions violate federal and state privacy laws and can discourage immigrant families from registering their children."