The Trump administration has defined itself by efforts to limit immigrant rights. Now, another one has been revealed via a new report in Bloomberg outlining an apparent plan to block undocumented immigrant children from public schools that longtime Trump adviser Stephen Miller pushed behind the scenes in the earlier days of the administration. According to the publication, that plan got to the point of considering sending a memo to state departments of education outlining an option for them to carry out the block. The effort was abandoned — and the memo never sent — after officials were notified the effort would violate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from the early 1980s demanding across-the-board access to public school for children in the United States.
It’s not immediately clear who actually “told” Miller and others involved in the push that it would have been pretty blatantly illegal. Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill claimed to Bloomberg that Education Secretary Betsy Devos “would never consider” the push if it had arrived at the desk in that memo form. If the move had been implemented, it could have blocked around three quarters of a million children from access to school.
Immigration advocacy group America’s Voice leader Frank Sherry denounced the idea, sharing:
‘Such a radical policy change would be unlawful, unacceptable and un-American. The notion that we should punish little kids who go to school and pledge allegiance to our flag because Trump and Miller want to make America white again is incredibly cruel, dark and sinister.’
It’s the same argument that underlies that original 1982 Supreme Court ruling, when that body insisted that it “does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice” to essentially punish the kids for something they weren’t responsible for, meaning entering the United States without documentation. The same logic underlies the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program that the Trump team has consistently sought to roll back.
One senior Trump administration official speaking to Bloomberg dismissed accounts of Miller’s push for this idea anyway as gossip — but the publication notes that they did not single out any specific claim as supposedly false, and more acutely, the idea fits right in with a new policy proposal the Trump team rolled out just last week. Stumped for perhaps most prominently by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services head Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration is hoping to count immigrant usage of public benefits like Medicaid and food stamps against attempts at citizenship. There are already a number of lawsuits unfolding against that attempted rule change, including a recent one rolled out by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
On his own time, Trump has repeatedly publicly stumped against undocumented immigrants to the point of one easily imagining that he was behind an idea to block undocumented immigrant children from school. In May of this year, Trump complained that supposed overcrowding in the asylum system “strains our public school systems,” insisting that using the funds for immigrant education that “should” be going to American citizens is “not going to happen in a very short period of time.”
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