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Justice Department warns schools against bias

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the administration continues to hear “troubling” reports of school districts raising barriers to enrollment for children brought into the U.S. illegally.

The Justice Department and Education Department issued new guidance reminding schools and districts they have a legal obligation to enroll every student regardless of their immigration status. The guidance says schools should be flexible in deciding which documents they will accept to prove a student’s age or residency.

It also reminds them not to ask about a student’s immigration status or require documents such as a driver’s license, if that would prevent a student from enrolling because of a parent’s immigration status.

Holder said in written remarks that his department “will do everything it can to make sure schools meet this obligation. “

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the administration wants schools to understand their legal requirements.

“The message here is clear: Let all children who live in your district enroll in your public schools,” Duncan said.

Children brought into the U.S. illegally are guaranteed the right to a K-12 education under the 1982 Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision.