Fox News Decries Granting Undocumented Children Their Right To Access Public Education

Fox News personalities criticized a plan allowing newly arrived child migrants access to public education as “tragic” and dangerous, despite a Supreme Court decision guaranteeing all children access to education regardless of immigration status.

Fox Figures Complain That Refugee Children Receive Taxpayer-Funded Education

Fox Guest: It Is “Tragic On So Many Levels” For U.S. To Educate Immigrant Children. On the August 12 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto invited conservative talk show host Gina Loudon on to criticize the fact that undocumented immigrant children receive public education. Loudon claimed it was “tragic on so many levels” for the U.S. to educate the undocumented children, adding that without criminal background checks and health screenings, schools won't know “if this student is a murderer” or “has one of the diseases that we're hearing about coming across the border.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/12/14]

Fox's Tucker Carlson: “But What About The Rights Of The Kids Who Were Born Here?” On the August 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson responded to the notion that it is the United States' legal obligation to educate children who come into the country by saying, “But what about the rights of the kids who were born here, the American citizens who presumably have the right to a decent education and aren't getting one because of this?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/11/14]

Fox Business' Buttner: “Forget The Ebola Scare. Is It Really The Back To School Scare?” On the August 10 edition of Fox Business' Bulls and Bears, host Brenda Buttner questioned whether parents should be concerned with “a surge of up to 60,000 illegal kids in their classrooms.” Buttner exclaimed, “Forget the Ebola scare. Is it really the back to school scare?” Fox Business reporter Tracy Burns later insisted that “we have to take care of our own first.” [Fox Business, Bulls and Bears, 8/10/14]

REALITY: School-Age Children In America Are Guaranteed Equal Access To Education, Irrespective Of Immigration Status

American Immigration Council: Supreme Court Guaranteed Undocumented Immigrant Children Equal Access To Education Under The 14th Amendment In Plyer v. Doe. In 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas statute which aimed to withhold state funding from local school districts that also educated undocumented immigrant children was a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Court found that undocumented immigrants and their children are people “in any ordinary sense of the term” and are thus guaranteed equal protection under the law, including the right to not be unfairly barred from the public school system:

The Court based its ruling on the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says in part, “No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (This provision is commonly known as the “Equal Protection Clause.”) Under this provision, the Court held that if states provide a free public education to U.S. citizens and lawfully present foreign-born children, they cannot deny such an education to undocumented children without “showing that it furthers some substantial state interest.”

The Court found that the school district had no rational basis to deny children a public education based on their immigration status, given the harm the policy would inflict on the children themselves and society as a whole. “By denying these children a basic education,” the Court said, “we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation.” The Court also said that holding children accountable for their parents' actions “does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.” [American Immigration Council, 6/15/12]