Arlington School Board: Adult Illegal Aliens Can Attend Public High Schools

Penny Starr | March 31, 2016 | 1:26pm EDT
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Emma Violand-Sanchez, chairman

of the Arlington Public School

Board in Arlington, Va.  

( Starr)

( – The chairman of the Arlington Public School Board in Virginia said on Wednesday that she is “proud” that the Arlington school district allows illegal aliens to attend high school as adults – no age limit – and that they can stay in school until they graduate.

“One of the things that I am most proud that as the supervisor of English as a Second Language, we started a program for older English language learners – students that were 18 and older,” Emma Violand-Sanchez said in remarks at the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, D.C.

“And we are proud that in the Arlington Public Schools today, there’s 300 students that are older than 18,” she said, “and they can stay in high school until they graduate. There is no age limit.”

“That is a first for us to believe that all students, all residents, should be able to access a high school education,” Violand-Sanchez said.

The CAP event was entitled "Harnessing the Talent of DACA and Unauthorized Students at the K-12 Level." The event description said that "unauthorized youth who are navigating the U.S. education system face a patchwork of policies and practices in schools across the country," and that schools and teachers need to know how to addreess these "unauthorized students' unique challenges."

As CAP further explained, its panel discussion would be "about the current challenges and opportunities facing unauthorized and 'DACAmented' students in the K-12 levels and the innovative ways in which teachers and schools have helped these students succeed. Roberto G. Gonzales’ new book, Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, tells the story of the two million unauthorized youths living in the United States and will be available for purchase at the event."

Violand-Sanchez also founded The Dream Project, a non-profit organization that “empowers students whose immigration status creates barriers to education by working with them to access and succeed in college through scholarships, mentoring, family engagement, and advocacy.”

She said illegal aliens in Arlington “face so many economic challenges,” including a high cost of living.

“But yet they arrive, day in and day out, from Central America and from different countries,” Violand-Sanchez said.

She also said that local, state, and federal authorities need to put into place policies that “help Dreamers to gain access to higher education.”

At the CAP event, the young people in the country illegally and who are attending American public schools and private colleges were referred to as “DACAmented” scholars.

This label was taken from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an executive action issued by President Barack Obama in 2012 that protects certain illegal aliens who were brought to the United States by their parents as children to be temporarily protected from deportation at two-year intervals and be given a work permit.

One of those “DACAmented scholars,” Yehimi Cambron, was given a full-ride, four-year scholarship at a private college in Georgia and now teaches 5th grade in that state. Cambron, who also spoke at the CAP event, said DACA needs to be expanded, not only for young people, but for their parents.

“My parents still have to drive without a license,” said Cambron.

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