Why are illegal immigrants allowed to go to public school?

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Question:

There are students in my daughter’s school who I believe are illegal immigrants. I don’t understand how they can be admitted to our school when they are here illegally and don’t pay taxes to support the school.

Answer:

In 1982, the United States Supreme Court decided that undocumented (often called illegal) immigrant children are entitled to a free education from kindergarten through high school in the United States. The case was called Plyler v. Doe.

The basic principle behind the decision is that children should not be punished or denied an education because of their parents unlawful conduct in bringing them to the United States.

What's more, the court stated that, "We cannot ignore the significant social costs borne by our Nation when select groups are denied the means to absorb the values and skills upon which our social order rests." In other words, the court was recognizing that, given the reality that these children are likely to remain in the U.S. for a while, and might eventually gain legal status, it doesn't make sense to consign them to a societal underclass.

Undocumented immigrant children may enroll in private schools if the immigrants can afford them, but private schools are allowed to set their own admission requirements. Whether they admit undocumented immigrants may vary from school to school.

You had also mentioned the issue of paying taxes. The fact is, many undocumented immigrants do pay taxes. If they're working for an employer who issues conventional paychecks, they'll have taxes withheld just like anyone else. According to Social Security Administration estimates, approximately three-quarters of undocumented workers pay taxes that contribute to the overall solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Others voluntarily file a tax return.

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