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I knew that a student was here illegally with her parents.

This was difficult because she
could not get a job or apply for college without proper identification. If I told someone,
she could be deported, and I didn’t know if the parents were working on getting legal
status or not.
Facts
1)
2)
3)
4)

Student was here in US illegally with her parents.
Student could not get a job or apply for college without proper identification.
Teacher did not know if her parents were working on getting legal status or not.
Student and family could be deported if the teacher told someone.

Ethical Questions
1) Should the teacher tell someone that the student was an undocumented resident
alien (consequently reporting her family as well)?
2) Should the teacher help the student attain legal status?
Arguments
No
1) All children have an equal right to a public education K-12, even if they are
undocumented. Backed by US Education Department and Justice Department
2) State ex rel. School-District Bd. v. Thayer, 74 Wis. 48, 41 N.W. 1014 (1889)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has stated that a child is a resident where he or she lives, regardless of where his or her 
parent lives, unless he or she is there for the sole purpose of having privileges of the public school of the district to 
which he may be transferred.6 Thus, if the main purpose of the child residing in the district is not to take advantage of 
the particular public school of the district, the child is a resident of the district in which he or she lives and is not 
required to pay tuition. As a result, adverse action against resident undocumented students should be avoided.

3) It is the humanitarian thing to do
4) If teacher reports student, then parents may be detained but not student and it’s the
schools responsibility to make sure student has a safe place to go. Schools cannot
release students into potentially hazardous situations. School districts may be
liable for negligent supervision if they do so.
5) Teach the child to be a productive citizen instead of dropping out of school and
potentially becoming a permanent undocumented resident alien.
6) 1982 U.S. Supreme court case Plyer v. Doe
7) 1995 federal district court case from California, League of Latin American
Citizens v. Wilson
8) If school authorities report an undocumented student to ICE and they deport or
remove the student from school, the school district’s actions could be viewed as
having denied that student access to school.
9) Schools cannot require undocumented students or their parents to tell their
immigration status.
10) The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) generally prohibits
school districts from providing third parties such as ICE information about
students contained in student records unless given parental consent or there is a
subpoena.
Yes
1) Federal law prohibits any person from intentionally concealing, harboring, or
shielding an illegal alien from detection, where the alien’s illegal immigration

2)
3)
4)

5)

6)

status is known.
Pressure to report from public opinion
Plyer v. Doe is the major case, legal precedent that everyone refers too. But
existing state laws and court cases vary so your situation could turn into a legal
matter.
It is a crime to harbor an undocumented resident alien in any place. Schools could
be considered locations where personnel may be found to be harboring illegal
aliens. An argument could be made that schools may be technically harboring
illegal aliens by allowing undocumented children to attend school during the day.
If teacher reports student, then parents may be detained but not student and it’s the
schools responsibility to make sure student has a safe place to go. Schools cannot
release students into potentially hazardous situations. School districts may be
liable for negligent supervision if they do so.
State laws dealing with illegal immigrants are becoming stricter.
a) In Alabama, the law requires schools to report student immigration statuses.
b) In 2010, Arizona passed legislation making it a crime to be undocumented in
the state and requiring law enforcement officials to inquire about an individual’s
immigration status when they suspect that he or she may be undocumented.
Officials in school districts with large immigration populations have questioned
the role of school resource officers who work in the schools but operate under the
direction of law enforcement agencies.
c) Similar bills have also been introduced in Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana,
Florida, Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas, and South Carolina.
d) Legislation under consideration in Texas would require school districts to ask
for proof of legal immigration status and report the number of undocumented
students who attend public schools.

Decision
In this ethical scenario, an undocumented resident alien student, I would not
report her or her family. This is both a consequentialist and non-consequentialist decision.
If I were to report this student, her and her family could be deported back to their home
country. This could potentially impact numerous people. Maybe they have nothing to go
back to, or it would be dangerous for them to go back. And what are the opportunities for
this student in their home country? In Mexico, for example, education is provided free
until third grade, after that, families have to pay for it. So, this student would have a
higher chance for success here in the US. She may not be able to attend college until the
proper paperwork is filed but at least she would have twelve years of education instead of
three. I would, as her teacher, assist her with or put her in contact with someone, to attain
US citizenship. It is also my duty, as an educator, to provide education to all students,
regardless of their economic, social, or legal status. The US Education Department and
Justice Department issued statements to all schools that they are obligated to do so.
Wisconsin does not currently have a law requiring schools to document and report
immigration status, they operate under Plyer v. Doe.