ACLU Suit: Schools Can’t Ask Illegal Alien Parents for ID

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Ballot Title for Referendum on Illegal Alien Driver’s LicensesIn 1983 the U.S. Department of Education published a report entitled A Nation at Risk, detailing what it described as an epidemic of mediocre performance by American public schools. The report stated, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

The authors of A Nation at Risk could not have known it but the combined effect of Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe and the 1986 amnesty would result in a large influx of foreign students in America’s public schools. Plyler v. Doe held that illegal alien children have a constitutional right to a free public education. The amnesty, and the lax enforcement accompanying it, attracted millions of illegal aliens to the United States. And those aliens promptly asserted that right, placing their children into public schools.

While the ongoing crisis in American public education can’t be blamed entirely on illegal alien children they are a significant exacerbating factor.  In a 2012 Salon article, Michael Lind of the New America think tank noted that American schools are overwhelmed by a “disproportionately unskilled and illiterate foreign-born population.” FAIR estimates that it currently costs public schools $59.8 billion to educate this burgeoning demographic.

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey is suing five public school systems because they require parents enrolling their children to present a picture ID. New Jersey does not issue state ID cards or drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. The ACLU considers this a discriminatory barrier to registering illegal alien children for school. And it may very well win those law suits, based on Plyler v. Doe.

Meanwhile, U.S. employers insist that they need to recruit foreign science, technology, engineering and math professionals because U.S. schools aren’t turning out suitable candidates. The business community clamors on behalf of foreign workers. The ACLU champions illegal alien school children. But who is defending the rights of American kids? In this situation, it seems like the real victims of discrimination are native-born American school children.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    I used to have a high opinion of the ACLU. When they defended issues such as the right to burn the flag I would say you may not like it but do you really want to put someone in jail for doing that. And I am not talking about pulling down the flag at city hall. That’s private property.

    But they have just turned into some illegal immigrant advocacy group. While it’s true that the Supreme Court has said that illegal children must be educated while here, that does not mean that they or their parents are not subject to deportation at any time. You can’t have it both ways by claiming you have the right to an education here but at the same time claim you should be able to hide your illegal status.

    What the state should do is issue a state ID card stamped here without permission. Unconstitutional? How? It’s true. When you go to foreign countries your passport is stamped not for employment. Just another example of liberals claiming that the law is what they say it is at any particular moment.

    In a related matter a federal judge today ordered null and void the administration’s directive that school bathrooms and locker rooms must be open to any person depending on the “gender identity” they identify with that day. It’s fine to accommodate people as much as you can, but why do ten thousand people have to be made uncomfortable for one person. They don’t count? What about the 13 year old boy who claims to be transgender one day and wants to go in the girls bathroom? How do you say no? And you have to remember that this stuff will be par for the course with Hillary and she will appoint judges to uphold it.

    • avatar

      No Wonder Our Public Schools Suck

      Most Rhinos and Other Progressives believe American youth and families are “subpar” and to blame and we need more education staff for our American IDIOT YOUTH. WRONG!! Theses deplorables need replacement by SMARTER foreigners Progressives assume.

      The Baby Boomers made up the same size classes as today, yet the schools THRIVED on 1/2 the staff costs, with high graduation rates [without GEDs] and THEY TAUGHT MATH AND SCIENCE then with high school teachers that had Bachelors of Science degrees, not today’s BAs.

      We didn’t waste money/time teaching English as a 2nd language then too.

      • avatar

        I never had a class of less than 30 to 35 kids. Now they are usually 25 to 30 with “assistants” and we are “graduating” a bunch of illiterates. I had an online discussion with a twenty something and I told him his English and writing skills were terrible. He said it was because he wasn’t “motivated” to learn because he didn’t like his teachers. I didn’t like some of mine but it was my responsibility to learn. We had a kid from Finland in 7th grade with no English. They told him sit back and observe and within 6 mos. he was catching on.

        We’re the Hillary/Obama nanny state now. Doesn’t AA say that the first step in solving your problem is admitting you have one. But supposedly addiction is now a “disease” like cancer. And feel free to ignore immigration law, we will make you a citizen. Even when some guy with a record is clearly shown on video to be pointing a gun at a cop, the cop is the bad guy because the perp gets shot. Meanwhile black parents proclaim themselves scared that their kid will be shot by a cop while the streets of major cities are a bloodbath because of black on black violence. Hillary is still promoting all the lies about Ferguson.