ACLU-NJ includes West New York in lawsuit accusing 12 school districts of anti-immigrant discrimination

West New York's Memorial High School
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West New York's Memorial High School

WEST NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union-NJ has targeted West New York as one 12 school districts statewide, in a lawsuit accusing them of discriminating against immigrants and children of immigrants.
In a press release issued Thursday, July 26, the ACLU says the district requires forms of state-issued identification requiring Social Security numbers or valid immigration status as a condition for student enrollment.
The suit against West New York uses its online student registration page to back its claims.
On the page, the district requests that parents bring either a valid driver’s license, passport, or state ID to their registration appointments.
“By requiring a form of identification that is only available to residents who have Social Security numbers or a valid immigration status in order to register a child for a school, the [West New York] school district denies an education to students with parents who are undocumented immigrants,” the lawsuit says. “It also discourages immigrants from attempting to enroll their children in the school district.”
Federal law prohibits school districts from requiring students to disclose or document their immigration status. They are also forbidden from making any inquiries of students or parents that could expose undocumented status.
Additionally, N.J.A.C. 6A:22-3.3 prohibits barring any students from public elementary and secondary schools on the basis of immigration or visa status.
West New York has a large Latin immigrant population. Last year, the West New York Board of Education even declared the district a “safe zone” for all school age children, regardless of immigration status.
When reached by phone, Superintendent of Schools Clara Brito Herrera said she had forwarded the lawsuit to the school board attorney for review.
“We always respect our students and our parents, regardless of their immigration status,” Herrera said. “We are a highly densely populated district with a high number of immigrant students in West New York, including myself. We have never turned away any student for lack of documentation.”