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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

New Legislation Would Prohibit Public Schools From Asking Students About Immigration Status

school classroom

New legislation in the state house would prohibit public schools from asking students about their immigration status.

The bill is part of a larger package aimed at ensuring access to a good education for students, both at K-12 and higher, regardless of their immigration status.

Democratic Representative Darrin Camilleri sponsored the measure. He said his bill would prohibit public schools from asking students to disclose their immigration status.

“It is important that every child goes to school without fear and without fear for their family to have to disclose any type of information that is not important to the advancement of the education of that child,” Camilleri said.

The 1982 Supreme Court decision Plyer v. Doe found that states cannot deny students access to public education based on their immigration status. Camilleri said the bill serves as an important reminder of that fact.

The other concern, he said, is that the information about immigration status could be used to threaten students and their families with deportation.

“When you ask that question you make kids feel unsafe in their own communities, in their own neighborhoods, with kids they’ve grown up with.”

Another bill in the package would give noncitizen residents of the state access to in-state tuition.

That bill is aimed at members of the DACA program, or deferred action for childhood arrivals, which grants temporary relief from deportation to individuals who entered the country as children.

The American Immigration Council estimates there are over five-thousand DACA recipients currently living in Michigan.

DACA remains in limbo after the Trump administration's repeated attempts to end it. The Supreme Court announced just last week it will hear a case over the legality of Trump's attempts to end the program.

Camilleri is not the primary sponsor on that bill, but he said residents of the state, even noncitizens, should have access to an affordable education.

“It is important that we think about different access points for our students across the state, and if there are opportunities especially for our DACA students, they should have access to education as well,” Camilleri said.

The bill would require that students attend at least three years of public or private high school in the state and have a high school diploma before being given access to in-state tuition.

Camilleri said he doesn’t believe the bills are controversial but he’s not sure if they’ll even be able to get a hearing.

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