Attorney General Racine Releases Guidance on Immigration Enforcement for D.C. Schools

Guidance Designed to Help Schools Protect Students and Respond to Fears of Kids and Families

Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced the release of guidance for teachers, staff and administrators at the District’s schools about protecting the rights of District students and their families in a climate of heightened concerns over immigration enforcement.

“Regardless of citizenship or immigration status, we are all afforded certain rights under the Constitution, as well as under District and federal laws—and all children have the right to free primary and secondary education,” said Attorney General Racine. “The Office of the Attorney General has received many questions about how local schools can best protect and support all students and their families. We hope this guidance will provide some clarity for schools and help ensure that every student can take advantage of all the opportunities education offers them without fear.”

The guidance document provides general information about the legal landscape around immigration for District public and charter schools and for members of the educational community. It aims to answer frequently asked questions about how schools may choose to assist students and their families and how student privacy must be protected, among other issues.

Key takeaways include:

  • School personnel are not required to ask about the immigration status of their students or their families.
  • Unless required by a court order or authorized in writing by a parent, guardian, or adult student, it is illegal for schools to provide student information to immigration officials.
  • Schools may require warrants before permitting law enforcement, including federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, to enter any school area that is not open to the public.
  • Schools can develop resources to support students and families who may be threatened by immigration enforcement actions, such as creating rapid response teams to aid students whose parents or guardians are subject to arrest or deportation; providing “know-your-rights” resources; and providing referrals to organizations that will provide pro bono legal and other services to families and students in need.

The information in the document is not intended to be specific legal advice or confidential information protected by the attorney-client privilege, but is intended as general guidance. For more information, see the full guidance document (attached). The document is available in both English and Spanish.

Attorney General Racine expressed his thanks to OAG staff and community partners who helped craft the document: “I want to thank our staff who worked hard to assemble this guidance, with particular thanks to the firm of Mayer Brown and attorneys Emily Horn and Alex Lakatos; and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for their invaluable assistance.”