Betsy DeVos Wants Everyone To Be Happy. Bigots, And The Immigrant Kids They Rat Out To ICE
But some special, unique children just have to go.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a big fan of state and local control of schools, even when that would break federal law. Not because she advocates lawbreaking, of course, but because she's an idiot who can't get it through her head that no matter what her ideal libertarian paradise might look like, there are some areas where federal law really does override local desires. During her confirmation hearing, she notoriously said she thought it should be up to states to decide whether kids with disabilities have full access to education. Tim Kaine angrily reminded her that equal education access is actually a federal law.
And yes, she's at it again. Yesterday, she told a House committee that it should be up to individual communities and schools to decide whether to call ICE on children they believe are undocumented immigrants. Federal law? Supreme Court decisions? Why would she know anything about those? She's all about local control, not silly laws.
DeVos's comments came during her very first appearance -- after well over a year in office -- before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, because why would the Republican education committee ever see a need to check in with the Education secretary? If they did that, Democrats would be allowed to ask DeVos questions, and we quickly saw why that could be risky for DeVos. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat from New York, asked DeVos whether a hypothetical school principal or individual teacher "finds out that a certain child is undocumented or his or her family is undocumented" should then go ahead and report the family to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, so the whole family could be deported. (Or perhaps just the parents and everyone else, if the kid is one of those hated anchor babies.) You can definitely guess her answer!
"Sir, I think that's a school decision, it's a local community decision," DeVos told Espaillat. "We have laws, and we also are compassionate. And I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this." Espaillat repeated the question and stressed that immigration law is federal law, but DeVos did not change her stance.
Here's video of the exchange, with commentary from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
WATCH: Today, Secretary @BetsyDeVosED said schools could decide whether to report undocumented students. That's wrong – and illegal. #DearBetsy: Read the Constitution and your own department’s guidance. https://t.co/2uDoVPTlcv pic.twitter.com/DG1Zwm9gMm— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) May 22, 2018
Oh, dear, she's not even remotely right, although she's certainly far-right. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund jumped in with a condemnation of DeVos's idiot local control mantra as well, accusing her of "dereliction of duty," among other things:
Any public school or school district that denies an education to any undocumented child -- whether by refusing to enroll, by limiting access to the programs and benefits provided to other students, or by reporting a child to ICE -- has violated the United States Constitution.
Which seems a bit harsh, considering the Constitution is only for white people anyway.
Education Week offers this quick 'splainer on where DeVos went completely and absolutely wrong:
The key case here is Plyer v. Doe. In a 1982 ruling on that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that public schools can't adopt policies that discourage certain groups of students, including undocumented immigrants, from enrolling. A 2014 fact sheet put out by the Education and Justice Departments states that schools "may not ask about your or your child's citizenship or immigration status to establish residency within the district." They also can't require parents to show driver's licenses or state-issued identification.
In addition, a "Dear Colleague" letter from both those departments in 2014 says schools "may not deny access to a basic public education to any child residing in the State, whether present in the United States legally or otherwise."
We should note, however, that Ed Week fails to mention that the 1982 Supreme Court decision is old and no longer valid because rightwingers don't like it, and that any federal guidelines from 2014 are also invalid because just look at who was president then. Jesus, it's like those people don't even understand that Donald Trump makes the law now. And besides, schools and communities are also perfectly free to just ignore federal rulings, like Joe Arpaio did, and they'll be pardoned by Trump, at least if they're popular enough.
Besides, Betsy DeVos just wants everyone to get along, with compassion and local control of federal law, don't you see? And she's even willing to agree that the stupid courts do require children of Unpersons to receive an education, for now:
DeVos acknowledged during her testimony that the Supreme Court has ruled that the government must provide funding to educate undocumented students in elementary and secondary schools. “There are undocumented children in K-12 education today that we support and give education to on a daily basis,” she said.
But when she was asked about ICE arresting parents at schools, DeVos also thinks that's just fine, too, repeating that Americans are very compassionate, but if you want to make a reelection omelette, you have to break some families:
“I would just say we are both a nation of laws and we are a compassionate people,” she said. “And I think it’s important that we follow the laws of the land, and if it’s important that laws be changed I encourage this body to do so.”
Then her boss can veto those changes and deport everyone, the end.
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