As the national conversation about the plight of undocumented immigrants and students escalates, a solution seems beyond reach because gridlock in Congress threatens to foreclose meaningful debate that could bring certainty to the lives of hundreds of thousands of undocumented students and graduates of our public schools. The one ray of hope to move the country forward lies in the bipartisan grassroots movement in the House of Representatives to circumvent the gridlock and bring the question to the House floor so that Congress can begin to find legislative solutions for immigration reform.
While the question of what is to be done about undocumented children is one that our national leaders hesitate to resolve, the answer is clear for public schools: We educate all of our children, regardless of how they got here — whether their parents came on the Mayflower or on a raft; whether they waited their turn on a State Department list, or took their chances crossing through unsanctioned, dangerous territory. Public schools have an obligation to educate our children; their right to access a free public education is constitutionally enshrined.
But, it is not enough to grant undocumented students the right to access public education. As a nation, we also must safeguard them and their communities from the irreparable harm caused by the threat of deportation, through programs such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) or through legislation that codifies its salutary purposes.